This Guest Post comes from Matt Proctor, a pastor and friend of YL. Matt is the lead pastor at Cornerstone Church, an Evangelical Free Church, in Marion, Iowa. He writes regularly onhis blogregarding spiritual health, the church, and ministry. This is the fourth post in our current series, “The 7th C,” exploring the relationship between Young Life and the local church.
Apostolic Ministry in a Postmodern World
Paul had the Areopagus (Acts 17), Peter went to Cornelius’ house (Acts 10), and Jan Werling taught me the Bible in the junior high cafeteria (I love you Jan!). Each of these saints was trying to reach people in places others dared to tread. Apostolic ministry has always involved unique ministry venues: Lydia found Jesus near a river used as a cultic prayer site (Acts 16:13-14) and some Ephesians found Jesus in a civic lecture hall (Acts 19:9-10). Today, we have numerous parachurch ministries (Young Life being one) who tread the halls and sports fields of schools all around our country. They love kids in Enemy territory.
Creative out-of-this-world ministry is central to reaching each new generation and people group. Like the ancient apostles, pararchurch ministries serve as a catalyst for the expansion of the kingdom of God. They are not the church (and most of them know this well). Young Life cannot conduct church discipline, and as such, Young Life should not offer the sacraments. Young Life cannot raise up kids in the faith, not having the body parts necessary to bring full maturity to a believer (Eph. 3-4). But what Young Life can do is proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in contextualized ways. The church should commend, support (prayer and $), and come alongside such ministries.
Young Life should see them as Paul saw himself. Paul knew he wasn’t the end all. Paul had many gifts: evangelism, leadership training, basic discipleship skills, and long-range vision. And yet, he knew he had to leave long-haul ministry in the hands of others. Young Life fails kids when they keep kids drinking Kool-Aid (both figuratively and literally). Young Life fails kids when kids leave Young Life believing ministry or the Christian life is supposed to be fun. The Christian life is one of sorrow, like the man of sorrows (Isa. 53:3). Young Life fails kids when they think being Christian means hanging out with people the same age (or even older people who act like teenagers).
Love for the stranger is central to Christian belief. It’s easy to like people like you, but God wants us to learn to love the old, the uncool, the boring, the smelly, the unimpressive …the Church (1 Cor. 1:26-27). Like the angels in heaven, we must all celebrate when someone comes know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Luke 15:7), whether in my church ministry or a parachurch ministry.
We need to see the Church as a symphony. We need every instrument to make a beautiful sound. In many ways, the local church is like a piano: able to make beautiful music all by itself. But the sound is improved with a few violins, a tuba, and an electric guitar. Young Life is the electric guitar. But Young Lifers should be churchmen and churchwomen. They need the church just as much as their kids need the church. They need to be under church discipline, the preaching of God’s Word, partakers of the sacraments, and “sent-ones” (the biblical meaning of apostle) by their church family.
Please leave your comments for Matt below. If you would like to write a Guest Post on this topic or others, please submit via email to YL1941 at gmail dot com.