(FYI) Trey Clark–Unity Does Not Equal Uniformity Lessons Learned in Multiethnic Youth Ministry

2. Lead with listening. 

Scott Cormode, a leadership expert and professor at Fuller Seminary, is fond of saying “leadership begins with listening.” [10] I’ve found this is especially true in the context of multiethnic youth ministry. Rather than leading with ideas, suggestions, and plans in my context—particularly as a minority in an unfamiliar mix of cultures—I’ve seen how critical it is to lead with listening.

Practically, adapting the work of sociologist Nancy Ammerman, I benefited from formally and informally investigating my youth ministry context with sensitivity to three areas: [11] 

  • activities (What habits and practices define our ministry?),
  • artifacts (What does the youth meeting space, Facebook page, newsletter, etc. communicate about our ministry?), and
  • accounts (How do people describe our youth ministry through their use of language, history, narratives, and worldviews?).

In light of these three questions, I asked, what voices or perspectives might we be ignoring or marginalizing in our context, and what actions do we need to take to change this? These questions, along with the invaluable gift of listening to personal stories, helped me to be more sensitive to the complexity of serving in a multiethnic context. For instance, I started to listen more carefully to the accounts the parents of our Latino/a youth offered of the youth ministry. As I did, I began to see how our seemingly culturally-diverse youth ministry was in many ways shaped by White Western values such as individualism and consumerism—values many of the parents challenged and resented. This leads to the next critical lesson.

Read it all (my emphasis).

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Posted in Parish Ministry, Youth Ministry

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