Does your church encourage youth entitlement or engagement? Is it realistic to equip our youth in Christian service that really matters to the church at large? Tim Eldred thinks that young people have a lot to offer to the church. Youth can make a powerful impact on our world when they do for themselves rather than count on adults working in youth ministry to do everything for them.
Who is Tim Eldred? As the youngest son in a pastor’s family, it was pretty natural for Tim to become a pastor himself someday. His church ministry has been centered in one congregation for over 20 years, where he has filled a variety of roles but focused on authenticity and relationships. For the last 12 years, Tim has also served as president of Endeavor Ministries, a major youth ministry organization, and has developed his philosophy of authenticity and relationships at a whole new level. He and his wife live in Michigan.
Many people would call today’s youth culture “entitled.” Tim Eldred points out adults have taken on the responsibilities that should have been transferred to the youth and done everything for them, in effect causing the entitlement problem. Young people want to be viewed as capable and their ideas as relevant and important. Through Endeavor Ministries, Tim helps youth workers and parents develop Christ-like identity and confidence in the church’s young people. As a result, teens are becoming ministers themselves rather than relying on adults to entertain them with a youth program.
“We have a culture, in general, that the expectations are kind of low for our young people. We do a lot for them when we really should be doing it with them and modeling and mentoring and training. But we settle for the easier path of just doing it. And it shows with the extended adolescence that we’ve propagated to age 30 now.”—Tim
“If you give them a voice, you give them value. But if you don’t give them voice, you don’t give them a sense of value. That voice comes sometimes in words, but quite often it comes in actions of letting [them] try something. Give [them] a chance to try and fail.” —Tim
“We have a generation that really has a lot of compassion. […] Teach them how to express their faith in Christ to their peers and give them a mission and give them a ministry and give them the tools to make their faith real and relevant. Not just because they may be dealing with the questions themselves, but they definitely know that one of their friends and classmates is struggling.”—Tim
“A good leader asks great questions much more than they give answers.”—Tim
- When working with young people, never do anything for them that they can do for themselves. There is a difference between enabling and empowering.
- Young people need to hear the words “You matter.” That need never goes away, though. All of us need encouragement. Some of us need to learn to receive compliments instead of the criticism we may be more used to.
- Revitalizing an organization requires the stripping away of everything that isn’t essential to it. In the Endeavor Ministries example, Tim identified the DNA of the organization and focused on that to bring it back into prominence.
Official Web site: timothyeldred.com
Books: 21 series of discipleship
Training in youth work: youequip.org
Raising Adults by Jim Hancock