Tag Archives: chris folmsbee

the future of youth ministry, episode 1

i led a late night discussion at the national youth workers convention this past fall on “the future of youth ministry”. in preparation for that discussion, i emailed a few dozen friends with better youth ministry minds than my own, and asked them to complete the sentence, “the future of youth ministry….” about 15 of them responded (often with more than a sentence!). i’m going to post them here as a series, sometimes with a bit of commentary from myself, and sometimes merely as a reflection-prod. would love to hear your responses.

Chris Folmsbee (chris is a vet youth worker, former head of sonlife, in some kind of leadership role at youthfront for a while, and these days leads barefoot ministries. he’s written a few great books, including “a new kind of youth ministry” and “stories, signs, and sacred rhythms: a narrative approach to youth ministry“. he blogs at a new kind of youth ministry.)

The future of youth ministry looks a lot like the past — an enduring search for what we’ll never find — the “right” way to do youth ministry

my thoughts: i can’t disagree with chris, but it’s pretty bleak. i do think the 80% middle of the normal distribution of youth workers has a misguided idea that there’s one ‘right’ way to do youth ministry, and if they just find it and apply it, everything (success, transformation, growth, job security) will be assured. of course, that’s not reality. and, i would suggest, it’s less reality than ever before.

with a splintered youth culture, every youth ministry is multi-cultural. and with a splintered youth culture (and frankly, i think this is also biblical), we need to be discerning the localized, contextualized, unique ministry (approach, values, methods, models, assumptions) that god is calling us to.

and, what if we shift from the scientific language and mindset of “rightness” in our ministry approach to the language and mindset of discernment and experimentation? searching is good, btw. the enduring search, somehow still connected to presence, rather than living in the future, is a good thing. just not the search for a binary rightness.

immerse: a journal of faith, life and youth ministry


not long ago, barefoot ministries (the youth and youth ministry arm of nazarene publishing house), now lead by chris folmsbee, acquired the journal of student ministries, and have re-launched it as immerse: a journal of faith, life and youth ministry. the new journal, with mike king as its executive editor, is not merely a title change, but a complete overhaul. it’s something, i believe, very different in the world of youth ministry magazines, with a level of depth and whole-life embrace that fits nicely in the space between purely academic and purely pop. i’m stoked to be a part of the advisory team of this venture, and have written a column for an upcoming issue.
immerse website
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here’s the little bit i wrote for the preview issue about why i’m excited about immerse:

We’re clearly in a time of deep change, and I expect it’s likely we will always be from here on out. The dramatic changes in the world around us and the world of teenagers calls on youth workers to re-think assumptions, values, practices, models, roles, goals and theology. What’s needed is nothing short of a Youth Ministry Reformation.

The time is seriously ripe for Immerse; and I’m hopeful that this journal will become one of our tribal sweat lodges. We need real-life physical spaces for dialogue, experimentation and exploration. But we also need this kind of collaborative trail of breadcrumbs, a printed resource to host and foment reflection and revolution. I, for one, am full of anticipation about journeying together.

i really encourage you to check it out.

scot mcknight’s blog gives a weekly focus to youth ministry

uber-blogger scot mcknight (also a brilliant author, theologian and friend) has been friendly to youth workers for a while. i think the fact that he teaches undergrads (and chose to, after years at the seminary level) makes him a bit of a youth worker himself. scot joined our ‘junior high pastors summit’ a few years back as our special guest, and we youth workers found a deep connection with him. he’s also presented well-received seminars at the nywc (and is going to be at a couple of them this fall also).

but i was especially pleased when scot emailed to say that he’d like to make his blog — jesus creed — more intentional about addressing youth ministry. and, to that end, scot (and his lovely wife, kris) plan on hosting a weekly post about youth ministry, on thursday mornings. for now, this weekly post will be written by our friend, chris folmsbee.

here’s what scot writes about it:
Through a variety of influences I have renewed my own commitment to the utter significance of youth ministry today — and I mean by that from junior high until adulthood (and that might mean 12 to 30!). Our future churches are rooted in what happens in the next decade with this age group. I have asked a dynamic young youth minister, Chris Folmsbee, to guide us in some conversations about youth ministry. And I’m urging you to join us in this conversation. Today Chris helps us think about “mission” — and he’s got a thoroughly up-to-date approach to mission.
the first of these weekly posts went up yesterday.

one of the best things about scot’s blog is that, due to his huge readership, there is often robust and thoughtful dialogue in the comments. i hope this continues on these youth ministry posts!

check scot’s blog on thursday mornings (and the rest of the days of the week also, for that matter).