The whole thrust of ministry, in whatever capacity it is performed, but most especially that of youth ministry, is community, to bring people together in a shared experience of faith in Christ. Nurturing is a goal of any ministry, indeed it is the goal, perhaps. To attain this goal people must draw close to others, ministers must come alongside the members with whom they work. To be in community really assumes that there is intimacy at some level. Community means proximity. Closeness. A depth of knowledge of each other. It certainly assumes openness on the minister’s part. Being accessible to the people one minister’s to is a given.
And here is the rub. We don’t do openness well in western culture.2 For many reasons, we don’t have much of a clue about boundaries in personal relationships, outside or inside the doors of the church.
From both the perspective of the minister and also the church member, there is more often than not very fuzzy thinking about boundaries, if there is any thought about it at all. I would argue the latter is most often the case. There is something we do not love about walls. Ministers, lay and clergy, strive to bring down the walls that separate. This is well and good, depending on what walls are being torn down. Walls of racism, ageism, economism, etc., are worthy of dismantling. So, of course, is the wall of sin that separates us from God. However, there are walls that need to remain standing. These walls have to do with privacy, with personality, with individual space. These “rabbits” need a place to hide. A well-tended garden is a wonderful thing to see, but it would not become one without a protective fence that keeps unwanted scavengers out. Leaders in the church, especially those involved in youth ministry, need to “walk the line and set the wall between us once again.” These words, no doubt, sound threatening to some. Perhaps even heretical. They should not. And they need not.
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