Name it……………………………………..Kristen Baltrum

When I first started in professional youth ministry, I simply wanted to create an environment of relationship and “church fun” that mirrored my own experience as a teen. While that worked on some levels, I was pretty sure something else was happening that I could not name – I had no language for it. After a number of years in the field, I decided I needed “Language Lessons.”

After a few years studying youth and family ministry, continued reflection on the assets of the Exemplary Youth Ministry study, and consultation with many other resources, I realize that my leadership is less about what I am creating in a ministry program, and more about naming what is already happening in the life of the Church and the young people I am called to serve. The “language lessons” were my learning to read and follow the spirit of God, and to help young people and the rest of the church see and follow what God is already doing.

Recently, a shy young adult in our congregation asked if he could round up some folks for a softball team. The congregation responded extremely enthusiastically, and quickly the roster was filled with men and women between the ages of 16 and 70, of all different athletic abilities. A business sponsor for the team even emerged. The games are off and running, with much laughter, encouragement and spirits flying high. Naming this team as a “cross-generational, relational activity in which the resources needed are already woven into the fabric of the community” has been a huge eye opener for all. The team happened naturally, but naming what is happening as the work of the Spirit allows each person to intentionally participate in the life of the Church in new and profound ways.

Kristen Baltrum has been working in Youth Ministry for seventeen years.  She serves and lives and names it in Longmont, CO.

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    • Anita
    • May 13th, 2010

    Kristen – That’s the very reason why I went to seminary…to develop vocabulary for ministry. What I now know is what you’re talking about and allowing for the spirit to move.

      • Kristen
      • May 24th, 2010

      Hey – I think now that we have the language down it’s important to pay attention and interpret the nuances of the language. This is where our work is a theological task. Have fun! – Kristen

    • Tim Coltvet
    • May 14th, 2010

    Well said Kristin. Thank you for this reflection.

      • Kristen
      • May 24th, 2010

      No Tim, thank YOU!

  1. You make a good point. 1 Peter 3:15 admonishes us to always be ready to give an answer for the hope we have. But I think many of us, and youth in particular, don’t know how to tell our stories.

    If we can’t name what God is doing in our lives, we may not be able to see it. But if we CAN name it, and make it part of our personal story, and share it with others, then I think our corporate experience of God is much richer.

    • Kristen
    • May 24th, 2010

    Hey Phil! 1 Peter 3:15 is on of my absolute favorite verses. Telling our stories is a huge part of our call as Christians. And I think you are absolutely right – it’s about enriching the experience of God in community, not just our own betterment. Thanks!

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