Nov 27, 2006

issues in youth ministry

I had the chance to be one of twenty voices into an online discussion on "Issues in Youth Ministry: What needs to change?" The series is now live, including some recent thoughts of mine. Here are my answers:

What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is struggling with today?

The big issues as I see it is professional youth pastors and senior pastors looking for job security. As the culture continues to change, the local church is struggling to define its role in a way that is static and marketable. Let’s be honest, a lot of what we do is try to convince people that our cause is worth giving money and time to. When the world changes in a way that we can’t address or accurately explain, we pull inward a little bit more and separate our kingdom off (whether it is the youth ministry for a youth worker or the whole church for the senior pastor). Consequently, our methodology becomes about preserving our thing instead of being willing to undergo an entire DNA change that may shrink our organization and leave us with less committed followers.

I wonder what ministry would look like if we didn’t care if we lost our jobs or not.

What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is responding to effectively?

In many ways youth ministry is attempting to address the same issues that the adult church may be after, but the amazing thing is that there is more of a willingness to experiment. My own experience is that whatever happened in youth ministry ten years ago and is still “working” is eventually accepted into the adult body. I’m not sure how much of that plays into my earlier answer regarding job security, but it seems as though the “arrogant faith” of youth pastors (and I mean that in the best way possible) collides well with the “cautious spirituality” of adults (and I mean that in best way possible, too). Bottom line… we need each other.

In what ways does youth ministry need to change?

We are still in many ways a content/model driven group and feel the need to control the show. I wonder what it would be like if instead of “hogging the ball” away from students we became sideline coaches and never tried to be the quarterback. Students need to be IN ministry and not just the recipient of it. Until we become content being discontent we will never give them the opportunity they are waiting for us to give them.

Unfortunately, the church at large needs to grasp this concept so that youth workers are given the opportunity to do so.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for getting that out there :)

Shift Conference Blog said...

you couldn't be more right on. we're talking about the same thing over at the Willow Creek student ministry blog ( Maybe you can chime in there too?

Grant said...

amazing how many of these themes "we" are seeing.

As much as i appreciate the mega church and YS and others, I don't think this is a shift they can lead. I reserve the right to be wrong!! haha..

Thanks T, for both the heart and head food.

Jennifer said...

Tony - these are great thoughts. I'm glad we bumped into each other at the convention - and glad you dropped by my blog and said HI as well!

Stay in touch!