Today someone made a comment to me about youth ministry and it's been stuck in my craw (if I have a craw, that is) all day.
The comment went something along the lines of: the youth group is always fund-raising, but it seems like they're never "giving back." The speaker went on to say that the youth are not presenting the Easter sunrise service this year as an example of them "not giving back."
That isn't to say that there won't be a sunrise service; it was just that the youth didn't want to do it this year, so I gave the youth director permission to say "no" ... and someone else picked up the service (it's going to be awesome this year).
The next point: fund raising. I agree that the youth ministry does too much fund-raising, but it's not like they are planning extravagant events. They are fund raising because their budget is extremely low. We are way under the benchmark for youth ministry ($1000/youth, including salary, operations, and ministry budget), so in order to do events (and to have food at youth meetings), the youth end up doing fund raising.
A lot of it.
Too much, if you ask me. Or the youth director. Or the youth themselves.
But to say that they don't "give back" isn't just silly. It's completely missing the point of ministry. When we're talking about youth ministry, we're talking cutting edge ministry. We're talking about kids who wouldn't otherwise be in church. We're talking about their friends who don't have church families, who sometimes hardly have biological families, who are meeting Jesus, who are thousand times more likely to accept Him now than if we try to reach them later.
Not giving back? Since when has that been the criteria for doing ministry, for pouring our hearts, lives, and money into God's work? I'm sure that's what Jesus said one Sabbath; "I don't want to heal that beggar, because all he does is beg, and when has he ever given back? When has he done service projects? I hear he isn't even going to be in the Easter sunrise service this year!"
Would we say about our shut-in members: "I would go visit her in the nursing home, but she never gives back."?
Would we say, "I think we need to shut down the nursery because the little tykes never give back"?
That said, the youth do give back. They come to Jesus. They begin doing ministry. They share Jesus with their friends. They build the freaking church. And when all of us die, the youth will be the ones left. Giving back.