10 trends that will reshape youth ministry

my friend jim candy wrote a fantastic and thought-provoking post over on the parenteen blog. i posted three ‘innovations i’m convinced are needed in youth ministry‘ recently; but jim went for 10 trends! great stuff (other than his incessant use of the word “kids”!). with his permission, i’m reposting here:

Ten Trends Will Reshape Youth Ministry
What will youth ministry look like in 2020?

There are more studies of young people and their faith today than at any time in human history. Despite this wealth of information, our methods have not significantly changed since contemporary youth ministry was birthed in the 1950s and 60s. That will change in the coming years.

Here is my best shot at how youth ministry will morph by 2020:

1. “Missional Communities” will change youth ministry relationships

A movement is emerging in churches large and small across the U.S. It started in the U.K. decades ago as the church was forced to learn new strategies in an increasingly post-Christian culture. “Extended-family” type groups of 20-70 people are emerging in churches that have a very clear outward mission. Kids are a part of this movement – a future blog post will talk more about how Missional Communities may change youth ministry more than any other movement in the coming decades.

2. Intergenerational education programs for Senior Pastors will emerge

Future senior pastors will increasingly be expected to understand the dynamics of today’s intergenerational movement in churches. Seminaries and other entities will begin to offer opportunities for senior pastors to be immersed in its complexities.

3. Sunday morning programs will become history

Congregations will become increasingly dissatisfied with the separation between adults and its young people at their weekend services. Worship services will change to accommodate younger people and those congregations that do not, will continue to disappear.

4. Same sex conversations will reach a fever pitch

Homosexuality, and the church’s view on that topic, will be a lightning rod for middle and high school kids in considering faith in Jesus. Youth ministries will increasingly need to lovingly converse with kids and the broader culture about its viewpoint – whatever it may be.

5. Professional youth ministry positions will become more rare

Churches will increasingly alter structures so that entire congregations and caring for young people and will rely less on paid staff than in previous decades. This will also be financially driven as more congregations will be forced to have a leaner staff.

6. Youth workers will be older

The stereotype of the youth worker as someone in their early 20s who views youth work as a stepping stone to another pastoral position will continue to fade away.

7. Youth workers will learn differently than previous decades

Conferences, books and seminars have been the major way youth workers have learned over the previous decades. The next decade will mark a continued emergence of youth workers learning together in smaller “cohorts” of up to 30 people.

8. Children’s ministry will emerge as the most strategic opportunity in the church

Youth workers will begin to realize that putting multiple, Jesus-loving adults in kids’ lives means to affect the way the entire family system thinks about their relationships. The best opportunity to influence those family relationships is when children are young and family relational patterns have not yet been established. Savvy youth ministries will seek to influence children’s ministry to encourage parents to create extended family relationships.

9. Youth ministries will leverage technology to help kids process Jesus

Young people, elementary school age and up, will increasingly own smart phones and other technologies. Youth workers and ministries will learn how to leverage technology to help kids integrate Jesus into the different segments of their complex lives.

10. Leading churches will learn new ways to help kids serve

The days where churches create “service projects” for kids to participate in will decrease. In its place will emerge more thought-out ways that churches come alongside young people who demonstrate a passion for particular causes or issues. Leading churches will ask teenagers to dream, pray and then support young peoples’ passions rather than create service projects and ask them to participate.

One thing that will never change: adults who love young people without agenda in the name of Jesus will always be a precious commodity and used by God to help transform their lives.

10 thoughts on “10 trends that will reshape youth ministry”

  1. As much as some of the items on that list scare me, I have to say that they are all true, and that I can’t wait to see what the church will be able to do when they all come to pass. So, I’m scared and excited at the same time.

  2. Marko,

    What amazing timing and truth this blog brings! I am a youth pastor in Minneapolis and we just hosted a discipleship conference that was all about missional communities. After the conference ended, I and some of my fellow Twin Cities youth workers went to lunch to talk about to implement this into youth ministry. We are seeing that Wednesday night is not the most important night for our students but that intentional discipleship groups and missional communities are truly the way of the future. Thank you for this post and as a guy who is is being immersed into the disicipling and missional community culture, would love to be a part of further conversations with you on it. God bless!

  3. lem, haven’t read it yet. i assume, from your comment, that it covers some of what’s covered here? (btw: i did NOT write this post! as i said in the opening, jim candy wrote it, and gave me permission to repost it!)

  4. Fascinating list. I’m already seeing #1, #3, and #10 in my own context. I’m wondering how #5 and #6 would practically play out. Older, more committed youth workers, but aren’t paid or full-time?

  5. GREAT stuff!
    I had one little hiccup at the end.

    “One thing that will never change: adults who love young people without agenda in the name of Jesus will always be a precious commodity and used by God to help transform their lives.”

    ….But we DO have an agenda, and JIm clearly identifies it in the same breath that he is encouraging us to love young people without one: Transformation of lives.

    Maybe it’s semantics. Maybe we should love young people with only ONE agenda? Maybe we should love young people with the agenda of seeing their lives transformed, but free of our agendas such as when it should happen, what it should look like, etc.?

    But I would submit that “loving young people without agenda” is incompatible with youth ministry.

    Semantics? Or two views….the “no agenda” view and the correct view? (HA!)


  6. If #8 is accurate, pretty sure it applies to youth ministry as well, perhaps even more needfully.

    As I look around my county, pretty sure youth ministry will be thriving in 8 years along with Sunday Morning programs flourishing.

    The idea that the congregation will simply absorb young people is a pie-in-the-sky thought. The youth program puts legs to it and puts discipling relationships in place that otherwise wouldn’t form.

    I do wholeheartedly hope that the youth is integrated *more* into the life of the church…but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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