I recently stumbled across the official notes from the Pentecost Summit, which was the event that launched PYWA in November 2005. Though I enjoyed reminiscing about the event, I was caught off guard when I read about the moment that the meeting participants adopted PYWA's mission statement:
Connecting, upholding, and inspiring Presbyterian youth workers to faithfully serve the one triune God among young people.
Before the statement was approved, it turns out that someone suggested that we replace “Presbyterian youth workers” with “each other.” Let that sink in a moment. We exist to connect, uphold, and inspire each other to faithfully serve the one triune God among young people. That’s powerful stuff.
Though I completely agree with the decision to use "Presbyterian youth workers" in the mission statement (it's important that we clearly articulate who we are instead of leaving it open to interpretation), I'll never again be able to look at the statement without thinking about the implications of "each other."
At first, I couldn’t articulate why the suggested change in wording struck such a deep chord in me. I just knew deep in my soul what it meant. As I kept reading, however, I came across a couple of phrases that brought it all to life. Buried in the notes captured from the conversation about what it means to connect, uphold, and inspire are the phrases, “I’ve got your back” and “you are not alone.”
That’s when it hit me: Youth ministry is often lonely and spiritually draining. That's nothing new. But, the challenges of youth ministry are no match for us when we create space to connect, uphold, and inspire each other. You are not alone because I've got your back. I am not alone because you've got my back. We're better together.
So, here’s to 2018. Here’s to the meetups, Bible studies, webinars, and email blasts that will bring us together.
Here's to our Strategic Planning Task Force who will soon have a road map for the next leg of our journey together.
Here’s to the Youth Worker Sabbath Day in April when we'll rest in God's love together.
And, here’s to the Christ-filled roller coaster we know as “youth ministry” that we get to ride together!
This banner was created at the Pentecost Summit after the mission statement was adopted. The hand prints are from the people who attended the event.