concise summary and reflection on ym3.0

another youth ministry 3.0 review on the resurrecting footprints blog:

i am a youth pastor, so i figure i should say something or share some thoughts about what i do…finished reading the book Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher.

the premise…youth ministry is making a shift [needs to make a shift] with the shifting cultural trends of youth. the 3 dynamics of adolescence are identity, autonomy, and affinity. whereas youth ministry in the past focused on identity [who we are as Christians in relation to the rest of culture] and autonomy [language of owning their faith emerges] today’s youth are particularly interested in affinity.

what is affinity? commonality. like-interests. attraction.
what does this mean for youth ministry? the book suggests we must look toward being Missional and Communional [yes, it’s made up…community and fellowship centered]. we must break down program-driven, big-event-focused ministry in favor of smaller groups that engage in common activities. if there are kids that like to serve, get them together to serve. kids that are skaters, get together and skate.

i hope that summary is fair [if not, oh well, that’s what i got!]. i enjoyed and found thought provoking. some questions emerged for me:

1) isn’t the Church, the body of Christ, the one place where people who have no business gathering should gather because of one affinity: common faith in Christ and unity in the Spirit?

2) there is a push in the book to lessening the focus on program – right on! however, isn’t encouraging “affinity groups” to go out and do their own thing just another program that further sub-divides the body of Christ? we’re not just dividing young/old, traditional/contemporary, now we’re talking about dividing the youth into skater/prep, service-oriented/Bible study, etc.

3) finally, is this just another shot at defining “youth culture’s” needs? i greatly appreciate the work done in this book and the conversation it begs [and is getting]. as a somewhat cynical youth pastor, whenever i pick up material about youth and the changing face of youth culture, i say, “really? let’s ask them.”

after reading these works, i usually go straight to the source, the students themselves, and say, “is this true for you and your peers?” i’m excited to see what they think!

if you’re in youth ministry or support those who are, check out this book!

2 thoughts on “concise summary and reflection on ym3.0”

  1. I do not intend to read this book, because this is attempt to discover something that has already been discovered.

    If you read anything by Kenda Dean in the last decade, you will discover that she has been saying this all along primarily in Practicing Passion which I admit, is more academic in content. Nevertheless, it’s a similar premise. It would appear that this book attempts to package in such a way that would appeal to an ministry context illiterate audience that would need a quick understanding of not only the shifting youth context, but the adult context as well in North America.

    While I will not read this book, I appreciate the fact that there are people out there willing to package ideas (even if they have already been said in previous books) for an audience that might not be familiar with such ideas.

    However, my one suspicion is that this book has a spirit of “I was the one that discovered this and everyone missed it in a sea of “big event ministry””, which is simply not true. ‘Missional Youth Ministry’ IS being practiced more and more as the years go on. It’s a contextual error to assume that since a certain geographical market (i.e. Southern California) is practicing big event ministry that everyone is still in that mentality.

    Like I said before, I am grateful that people are out there to re-package ideas for an audience that might not be familiar with a certain body of literature.

  2. very interesting, tim, that you would post this comment. hmmm. not sure how to respond.

    i’m sure there are ways in which my book stands on the shoulders of kenda’s work (and many others), which is probably why i pursued her to write the foreword (and why i reference her and others often in the text). i do think there’s value in distillation.

    that said, i do hope my book adds to the discussion also. i think there are some ideas in the book that i haven’t seen other places (particularly, the cultural shift that has occurred in youth culture that has brought us to a point where affinity, or belonging, has become the top priority of adolescent tasks). my input and perspective is certainly not limited to southern california, for that matter.

    i’d be happy to email you kenda’s foreword, if you’d like to see what she has to say about the book. (or, if you have a kindle, you can download her foreword for free from amazon.)

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