Youth Ministry: It’s Always All About Attitude
[ Extracted and edited from D2Y2 Magazine – 2001, Volume 3 Issue 11]
I received a call from a Sun Newspaper reporter just the other day. He asked me for my views on the Rakan Muda programme and how successful I thought it was.
Rakan Muda is a programme officially launched by the Prime Minister of Malaysia on the 29th October 1994 with the core mission of bringing forth potentials and capabilities among youth to support our nation’s goals.
I told him to give me time to think through his question rationally. I wanted to give it a fair and deserving comment. Too many times, sadly, people are just too quick to criticise the government, or anyone else for that matter, without offering any constructive solutions to the issues at hand. I certainly did not want to fall into that category. So I took my time.
As I thought about it, a part of me was grateful that our government was so concerned about the affairs of our youth today and how it sincerely desires to tackle the growing social ills that plague us. But the other part of me was challenged to find a reply by scrutinising the very objectives of Rakan Muda which honestly (and maybe to my shame) I did not know. And because I did not know Rakan Muda’s objectives, my thoughts went (as if to find a generic formula) to the objectives of my own ministry, Asian Youth Ambassador (AYA).
The ministry of Asian Youth Ambassadors (AYA) was birthed in November 1995 with a mission to communicate God’s vision to motivate, mobilise and multiply His youths with the message of reaching out to the lost through creative evangelism. The message of AYA is that Christian youths must begin to know their purpose in God, believe in themselves, raise the standard in everything they do, be an example, reach out and attract the world to Christ.
I went through AYA’s objectives word for word. They sounded quite good to me, as do all written objectives universally, but out expressed a feeling I was not totally comfortable with. Is that all we want, objectives that sound good and right? How about right attitude(s)?
I searched even deeper for an understanding and this is my conclusion. Going as far back as only two generations ago, children were taught “to be seen but not heard”. Though the generations have improved somewhat through time, I believe that the old attitude remains quite unchanged in its nature.
If this is true, then what many youth ministries are doing today is that we are still playing the role of babysitter or nanny, “Keep the children entertained and out of the hair of the adults until they are ready”, until when they start looking and behaving like one of us. Well, this should not be.
Youth ministries must not exist to train young people to become like their fathers or mothers, but to bring out the best in each of them, even if that means being different. We should be raising up responsible and fulfilled individuals instead of cloning robots out to please their masters.
AYA’s ultimate purpose is not to make parents happy, though that will happen naturally when youths live purposeful and fulfilled lives. Our main focus must be what’s good for our youths. And again, not just what we think is good for them using ourselves or our dreams as the standard, but what IS really good for them.
This must be the attitude if we are to succeed in winning the heart and trust of this generation back again. At the end of the day, it’s all in the attitude.
D2Y2, which stands for Don’t Despise Your Youth, was an official Asian Youth Ambassador (AYA) magazine birthed out in the late 90s. The printed materials communicated dynamic and effective encouragement to and from the Church, with special emphasis on the knowledge and experiences of our Christian youths, which we believe the content is still relevant and applicable in this current generation.