Thursday, July 7, 2011

Meet Rachel Blom, A ProYouthWorker from Germany

All to often youth workers feel very isolated as they do much of their work independently.   It is for that reason that I pursue getting to know youth work professionals all around the world.  Today I am honored to introduce Rachel Blom. 
What is your name?
I’m Rachel Blom, Dutch of origin but now living in southern Germany. I often joke I’m American at heart, but for now, I’m very content living in the beautiful part of Germany with my husband of almost sixteen years and our three year old son.

What trait are you known for?
Being addicted to yellow M&M’s and Coca-Cola ;) Other than that, a very sunny disposition, my fabulous memory for names and my preaching I guess.

Current Youth Work Role:
In my last church I was on staff as youth ministry coordinator. At the moment, I’m not involved in youth ministry in a church. I am however filling my days with my blog called Youth Leaders Academy, which is aimed at training youth leaders worldwide to serve better in youth ministry. I’ve discovered I love writing and so using my experiences and knowledge to help other youth leaders. But I’m hoping and praying God will have an ‘active’ youth ministry job for me in the near future.

Number of years in the field:
About twelve years, of which two on staff and ten as volunteer, doing everything from small group leader and communications team leader to actually leading the whole ministry.

What made you choose to pursue youth work as a career?
I started out as a volunteer in teen and student ministry and discovered I had a passion for youth. When the former student pastor left in our last church, my husband and I took over basically because there was no one else and that’s when I realized that was what I wanted to do. After two years I was offered a paid position and I took it. I simply love young people, I love being around them and most of all I love showing them how great and awesome our God is.

What does a typical week look like for you?
It involves a lot of sitting behind my MacBook to write blog posts, catch up with people on Twitter, Facebook and stuff and to research ways to improve my blog. I look after our son when he’s not at Kindergarten. Then there’s a huge garden to be maintained and a lot of household chores…All in all, I’m happy to have sort of a sabbatical after a couple of very busy years in youth ministry. I do miss the day-to-day contact with young people though, even though I’m still in touch with a lot of my former students via social media.

If you wrote a book based on your experience in youth work what would it be called?

With a big wink to the famous singer Edith Piaf I’d say ‘non, je ne regrette rien’, or ‘I don’t regret anything’.  If I look back at how I started out and what I’ve seen and learned and experienced, I’m just so grateful that God gave me a chance to do this. It’s surely been a ride, including some bumpy parts, but I loved every minute of it…even the difficult moments have shaped me as a person and I’m thankful for them.

Favorite memory with a teen(s)

The moment when completely unexpected five students in our small group announced they wanted to get baptized. Well maybe the actual baptism service was even better. I cried buckets! To hear their testimonies and realize that our small group had made a difference in their lives, that was so awesome, I’ll never forget that.

Worst nightmare (what has happened, or what you fear has happened)

When two girls decided to bring alcohol to the youth retreat and we found them (and a third girl) dead drunk. For some reason, I took that very personal and it took me a while to get over that.

What are you most passionate about in youth work?

To see students ‘get the message’. We have a lot of kids who grew up in church, yet they don’t really understand the gospel. When they grasp the concept of grace, it’s an amazing sight to see. And I love seeing teens get radical about their faith, that inspires me to keep doing what I do.

What is the best idea you have ever come up with for youth?

That’s a hard one, as most of our best ideas were a group effort…Some of our best ideas have included special youth retreats. One that worked really well was the theme ‘pure’ where we kept everything as pure and simple as we could, including acoustic worship, old fashioned games and a breakfast picknick-style in the woods – it was one of our best retreats!

What is one thing that would make your job easier?

There was a lot of tension between the two pastors at [my former church] that really affected my job.It made working in the church building so difficult that I vacated my office and started working from home again. They’re working on a solution to that right now and I understand that takes time, but that was really awful having to witness that.

What is one thing you wish you didn’t have to do?
 I don’t particularly like making phone calls in general, especially with people I don’t know very well. I’m much better in face to face talks, even Skype works fine for me…I’d be very happy if I could skip the calling part!

Rachel Blom is a youth ministry veteran from The Netherlands, currently residing in Germany with her husband of sixteen years and their wonderful three years old son. She spends most of her time on her daily youth ministry blog, aimed at training youth leaders world wide to better serve in youth ministry. You can also find her on Twitter via @youthleadersac
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