As Borthwich had presented a strong case that

As
such, the role of the youth minister is more complicated than that of a
cross-culture missionary. As the youth progress in age, their thought processes
change, according to their maturity, thus presenting different challenges
compared to learning the thought process of adults in different cultures based
on ethnicity or nationality.

            This also poses a problem in raising
youth leaders amongst the youth – another issue identified by Borthwick.

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Borthwick argued that the biggest challenge in this matter lies in missionaries
who underestimate the capabilities of indigenous Christians to lead themselves.

However, unlike the equipping of indigenous leaders in foreign cultures, the
challenge faced by youth ministers are not just the unwillingness to let go of
leadership on the part of the youth minister, nor resistance from the people,
but also the actual limitations in the capability of the youth to lead. While
they can be guided, led and taught leadership skills and principles, and much
as they may want to, they would still lack the ability to lead with maturity and
make appropriate decisions simply because they are neurologically not ready for
such a task. The challenge of equipping youth to be leaders, therefore, is not,
in reality, an apple-to-apply comparison with that of equipping indigenous
leaders, who are matured adults. 

Despite
the arguments presented above, I agree with Borthwick that there are many
similarities between the two ministries. To be able to reach out to the youth,
or any person from a different culture for that matter, Lingenfelter in Ministering
Cross-Culturally1  advised that we must be willing to break away
from our personal cultural attachments – what he termed as our personal
“prison” – to rid ourselves of personal biasness. This would require both youth
ministers and cross-cultural missionaries to adopt a learning posture, and be
committed to reaching out to all peoples where they are, whether in a different
culture, in a different geographic location, or at different stages of their
lives.

            In the listing of the common
challenges between the two ministries, Borthwich had included language
learning, sitz-im-leben, and Ethnomusicology. There is no that doubt
communication is key in any relationship, let alone ministry. The requirement
for youth ministers and missionaries to learn the language and appreciate the
music of the people they are reaching out to, is important. The ability to work
the gospel and biblical truths in real-life situations is also an equally important
challenge for both youth ministers and missionaries.

            Borthwich had presented a strong
case that youth ministry is, in essence, a cross-cultural outreach, as well as
the applicability of cross-culture missionary skills to the missiological
aspect of youth ministry. The concept of Incarnational Ministry as identified
by Borthwick as the biblical foundation for youth ministry, is perhaps the
strong connection between youth and mission. However, it is important to be
reminded that the purpose of the Incarnational Model of Ministry is to enable
better communication of the gospel – it is a means to an end, not the end in
itself. Borthwick himself acknowledged this as he wrote, ‘Incarnational youth ministry
fosters empathy so that the Lord Jesus Christ and his saving power can be
communicated.’ If the proclamation of the gospel is the main objective, it is arguable
that the ability to empathise and build authentic relationships through
compassion, interpersonal rapport and reciprocity, as propounded by Borthwick
and Van Rheenen2, are
in fact skills that are necessary for all Christians, who are called to go into all the world and preach the gospel
to all creation3,
and not restricted to the youth ministry. It could apply to any ministry –
perhaps in differing intensity – as the personal culture of every individual is
unique4.

For as long we take a missiological perspective to any ministry, it will be, in
many ways, equivalent to a cross-cultural outreach.