When I was a young youth pastor, I thought it was my job, neigh, my obligation to change the church for the glory of God. I thought it was my job to be the radical all the time and to drag these spiritual neanderthals out of the 19th Century (or earlier) and into the now. Then comes the sting, the sting of conformity. A sudden and painful realization that things are not swinging my way (or God’s way, as I believed).
No one likes to get stung. And a sting is nothing you plan for, it just happens. I have an app on my phone called a Whack Pack. It’s an idea generator to get you thinking in a different direction about a challenge your are stuck on. I hit random and the card Conform came up. Not the card I wanted. I am not good at conforming, still after 20 year. But this stinger got me. In my current situation, I realize that conformity is the answer, not the problem.
Most of us are familiar with Romans 12: 1, 2 about not conforming to the world. From this, I always assumed conforming on any level was a bad idea, so I didn’t. What I realized over the years is, there is a place for conformity in the church. My areas of conformity over the years include
- Conforming to the Pastor’s vision (not trying to get my Pastor to conform to mine)
- Conforming to the musical traditions of the church (find joy in God, not in style)
- Conforming to the culture of the city I serve. (finding ways to fit in rather than stand out)
Another level of conformity I struggle with, especially with age, is conforming to the level of the spiritual level of our students. No matter where our kids fall on the spiritual spectrum, we should conform to the level of our students for a season, until a door of opportunity opens to raise them up. Isn’t this what Jesus did?
“Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage” Philippians 2:6
Do you struggle with conformity? Do you think it’s the role of the youth pastor to lead the radical way? What are your thoughts?