Youth work has a long tradition of using food. We love to use it for eating, especially. The Bible gives us great encouragement to use food for eating with one another. Celebrating, fellowship, parties, and communion. Food is a wonderful tool for authentic ministry.
But there is another use for food that Youth Workers revel in. It’s particularly fun, often messy, and our young people, on the whole, love it.
Except that I don’t.
And it’s not because it’s messy. Messy is great. In fact, the messier the better. My problem is the context I find myself in. Food is expensive, and we are surrounded by poverty.
Therefore, I struggle to find any joy in using food in a wasteful manner, because there are people in my congregation who don’t have any. As a church we have limited resources, and we use it as wisely as we possibly can. I don’t think I can have a young person coming into my youth, who has yet to eat that day play a game where food is wasted, and not enjoyed as it was intended. Does this mean I’m a buzzkill? Sure. But you can imagine what the kids in my context feel when they see food being used in such a manner.
I think part of our problem as youth workers is that we prioritize fun/entertainment over deeper concerns in the lives of our young people. Perhaps, we can structure our group times differently.
If Jesus used food to bring people together and share the gospel, then maybe that could be a great model for our youth ministries too?