Thursday, June 15, 2006

Congrats to Jonathan for Taking Adopt-a-School to a Higher Level

At this year's Celebration of Xcellence (r.)

In April we celebrated my brother Jonathan's selection as a teaching fellow with the NYC Department of Education. Today, he received two (2!) job offers from his first choice school, PS 34, a historically underperfoming elementary and middle school located on Avenue D, directly across the street from Generation Xcel. It has been the principle feeder school for Xcel since our inception 10 years ago, and at least two dozen students from there (plus six or seven families) have made the subsequent transition into the Abounding Grace family as well.

Jonathan's outdone himself with this one! As a co-founder of Xcel and the youth pastor at Abounding Grace for two years, he has modeled sacrifical love for the community since his first street ministry experience at the age of 6. But by choosing to work within the school itself, and viewing it as an extention of his youth ministry calling, he's raised the bar for the rest of us.

I may now confess that when I wrote "Why Churches should Adopt Public Schools" back in February (reprinted nationally this summer by the National Network of Youth Ministries), much of what I wrote had been inspired by my brother. When he first mentioned to me that he was considering transitioning out of full-time church work into full-time public school teaching to better serve the youth to whom he's called, and his reasons why -- more regular access with kids and parents; opportunities to cultivate deeper relationships; equipping them with eductaional skills, specifically math, to better prepare them for the future -- he got me thinking.

  • What if churches began to regard "youth ministry" not as something that's done within their walls, but as something done within the community?
  • What if "youth ministry" wasn't a second class church job but something we released saints to do within the marketplace?
  • What if we expanded the definition of youth minister to include paraprofessionals, teachers, administrators, custodians, cafeteria workers, volunteers, and coaches within our schools (as well as business owners, librarians, health care workers, and others who interact with kids everyday)?
  • What if local churches cultivated creative partnerships with our schools to better equip young people to become who God created them to be?
  • What if...? What if...?

The possibilities are literally endless, and Jonathan's daring to turn them into reality.

Love you, bro!


At 6/20/2006 12:10:00 PM, Anonymous Matthew Kruse said...

AMEN to all 5 of those bullet points.

It's called seeing a church as a missional community of created-in-God's-image people who are engaging their time and place with the Gospel as a WAY OF LIFE, not as a church program.

Your bullets articulate well the questions we should be asking.


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