I am a huge baseball fan and so this post will resonate with some and miss the boat with others. The 1994 Montreal Expos were a team that was poised to win the National League East. They had an all-star team with the likes of Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom, Mike Lansing, Pedro Martinez and Cliff Floyd to name a few. This team was getting it done even against my Atlanta Braves who were unreachable in the previous years. 114 games into the season the Expos were 74-40 and 6 games ahead of the Braves. They were the best team in baseball at the time. The problem is they never got to finish the season because of the 1994 MLB strike. It ruined the season and ultimately sealed the fate for the Expos as eventually the team never could recover and was later moved to Washington, D.C. (2004) to become the Nationals (who are ahead of the Braves right now coincidentally). I say this only to highlight that numerous times I have seen articles and TV shows highlighting the Expos of what “could have been” if the strike never happened. They talk about how good they were, how fast they were, how strong they were and it was not fair what happened.
I thought about this and how it related to youth ministry. I hear of youth ministers talking about the “good old days” when they had everything going smooth until “that” happened. “That” can range from a number of things like a church split, a death in the youth group, a youth minister getting fired, disagreement among philosophies or other tragic events. Tragic events are hard on a ministry and I am no expert in dealing with them but something I do know is that if a church is not careful the event can be a festering wound for years to come. Bitterness, anger and a lack of forgiveness can stymie any ministry no matter how brilliant the vision and organization. If a youth minister is smart he or she will concentrate on the climate of a ministry before they start thinking about nuts and bolts.
This can be done in the interviewing process where questions are asked about the nature of the ministry. Beware of toxic youth cultures that hinder growth and quite frankly quench the Spirit. Take time for healing, mending but then move on to what God has in store next. Remember God stated there would be a remnant in Israel even after many were killed and all hope seemed lost.
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zeph. 3:15-17)