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.