It’s Time To Form A Youth Ministry Ensemble

There’s so much talent in churches. Listening and looking for it, blessing it, and connecting it to other talent to shape the ministry of the church–that’s the way forward now. Nilofer Merchant says, “The Social Era is ultimately about the way connected individuals form an ensemble and create value together.”

I’m fond of team language, yet “ensemble” feels even better to me. An ensemble can improvise.

Youth ministry depends on the engagement of adults working together. Do youth directors invite congregants into a value-creating ensemble, though, or are we more in the habit of pleading with volunteers to execute tasks we’ve already decided make up the muscle of youth programming: teaching Sunday school; leading a small group; chaperoning a lock-in.

Organizing an ensemble that creates value for teenagers and the church may issue in programming that is filled with all those same tasks, and that’s fine; the tasks aren’t the point. Collaborative value-creation is the point.

We’re going to experiment with some ensemble forming this summer by inviting literally anyone from the congregation to propose a Sunday morning course for teenagers during June and July. The ensemble of folks we gather might produce things as diverse as a book reading group, a knitting circle, an improv troupe, a prayer team, or even a running squad. Whatever we make, we’ll make it as an ensemble.

Bring on the noise.

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