Tag Archives: mark oestreicher

welcome to whyismarko.com

it clearly didn’t make sense for me to re-fire up this blog under the name ysmarko. so, welcome to the “new” whyismarko.com! yeah, there’s a little play on words (or sounds) there; but the new name is also reflective of the stuff i’ve been wrestling with for the past year.

really, as i look back over the past year, i’m just stunned at how much god has been lovingly preparing me for this transition.

– last december, when i was told i had to re-organize youth specialties, there was a week or so when i thought i was supposed to leave also. it created a massive panic within me, that, in hindsight, i wouldn’t trade for anything. even when i settled back into my role, i was left with a new awareness that my identity and my work were completely enmeshed, in a very unhealthy way. i was struck with the question: if i were to lose my job for any reason, who would i be? and, the really disequilibrating bit of that was that i did not have an answer to the question. sure, i had the cognitive answers. but they weren’t “soul answers.” i started down a path of unraveling marko from ysmarko (the persona, not the blog). this resulted in lots of prayer and thinking, lots of conversations with my wife and a few trusted friends.

– in march, i began a one year leadership coaching program with john townsend. it’s a 360 style thing, where a team of 8 of us meet with john for a whole day, once a month, and have regular interaction on a closed networking site in-between. i was asked to share, at our opening meeting, what i hoped to get out of this program; and, among other things, i talked about this un-entwining i needed to delve into. in the months since then, this team has walked with me as i’ve wrestled and prodded and queried and cried. really, i can hardly imagine what this current transition would be like for me had i not been processing all of this with that group all year.

– in may, on a ys leadership team retreat, i was deeply struggling with these issues. and, in an exercise our consultant led us through, i had an imaginary conversation with a 60 year-old version of myself, who was worn out and tired, and spoke to me (it was kinda freaky!), saying, “you have to stop!” for about an hour or two, i was interpreting that as meaning that i needed to quit ys! but in a side conversation with our consultant, i realized that i needed to take a significant step away from my “ysmarko” persona, at least for a season. i knew in that moment that i had to shut down my blog, cancel my twitter and facebook accounts, significantly reduce my travel, and pursue presence (both with my family, and with the staff of ys during that difficult season).

– in june, i was still regularly struggling with anxiety over the thought of “well, what else could i even DO with my life?” i brought this up in with my coaching team, and townsend wisely counseled me that my constant stiff-arming of the question (which i saw as a distraction) was actually keeping me from presence. he encouraged me (it was actually my “homework” for that month) to do what felt counter-intuitive: to focus on coming up with some answers to that question, so i could then set it aside for now. i went on a silent retreat, and i met with our consultant (who is also one of my closest friends), and came up with a handful of buckets of things i could imagine being life-giving for me, if a “post-ys” time ever become a reality.

– then, the last few months have been a roller-coaster ride. and i was very emotionally prepared (as much as one can be, i suppose) for the news that i was being let go. even three days before it actually occurred, i connected the dots and walked into the meeting completely knowing what was about to go down.

all of this was god’s grace. all of this was god lovingly preparing me (and, i think, in a sense, preparing ys) for this current season.

oh — one more: a week before i was let go, i got an email from a youth worker i’d never met. she’d been at the ys convention in los angeles, and wrote about a vision she’d had. she expressed that she was uncomfortable emailing me about this, and that she’d never done this before – especially with someone she’d never met. but she’d been standing in the back of a big room (general session), and suddenly had this vision of a man standing at the foot of a mountain, with hiking boots in his hands. he was looking at the mountain, trying to figure out how to best start his climb. then, he noticed that there was a picnic laid out on a blanket next to him. it looked so inviting, and he was conflicted about whether to attack the climb, or sit and enjoy the picnic. she knew the invitation to the picnic was the real deal – the loving invitation of god to sit and rest in god’s love. then, she wrote that she felt god telling her, “this is for marko — i want you to share this with marko.” she wrestled with this, and tried to dismiss it, as she didn’t know me, and thought the whole thing was just too weird. but, weeks after the convention (and one week before i was laid off), she took the courageous step of emailing me, telling me this story, and writing, in the most understated way, “i don’t know if this means anything to you right now or not.”

i was blown away. and that image of the picnic blanket laid out on a grassy hill, with cool fall breezes blowing, and yummy picnic food, has stuck with me in a profound way over this last month.

so, other than the cutesy play on words/sounds, that’s why this blog is now called whyismarko. i’m not done figuring all this out — that’s for sure! but, even when i do land in some other role, i want to be a new man and a new leader. i want to be confident in who i am as a child of god, a husband and father, and as a leader; and i want to lead from those places.


and now, the technical stuff: i’ve reset feedburner, and the 500 or so of you who were subscribed to the old blog shouldn’t experience any problems. but if you do, just drop that feed, and subscribe to this one. with the help of a friend, all the old ysmarko stuff should be here, but it might take a week or so for all the images to work. and i’m sure there will be technical glitches we haven’t foreseen. if you still have a link on your blog to ysmarko, i’d greatly appreciate it if you would update that to this URL. i’m still not going to re-start my twitter account; but please do feel free to tweet this new URL.

i’m very stoked about reconnecting with the conversation, thinking, and fun we’ve had on this blog in the past. i’ll not be posting with the frequency i once did, because i refuse to become obsessed with this thing. but i expect i’ll show up here a few times a week for now, and see where it goes.

interview about youth ministry 3.0

clinton faupel of web-based radio, remedy.fm, did an interview with me a couple weeks ago about youth ministry 3.0. it’s available as a podcast on itunes, here.

remedy.fm, btw, looks like a pretty cool resource for youth workers to know about. they stream music, and have a bunch of other shows, both live and in podcast form, for teenagers, and for youth workers (on that podcast page, “the er show” is a youth worker show). some of the shows are music-based, and others are youth issue call-in type shows. check ’em out, and it might be something you want to point out to teenagers.

wow, what a great ym3.0 review

sorry (a little) for the quantity of these this week; but i’m a bit behind in posting them…

i’ve been blown away by the number of blog reviews youth ministry 3.0 continues to receive. really, very humbled. but a few of them stand out. and this is one of them — written by Alaina Kleinbeck, on the blog/website youth e-source (an LCMS youth ministry site):

I have a not-so-secret contempt for books that talk at the reader. Books that tell you everything that is wrong and why you should be fixing it and how this person and that person is doing it better than you. This is the core the self-help book market. It’s frustrating to me as an avid reader because I want to talk with the author. I want to talk about the material. I want to read the research and the author’s assessment. I want to make my own assessment.

A book is a conversation, not a tool for condescension.

Mark Oestreicher’s Youth Ministry 3.0 embodies the conversation model of ministry books. His book is revolutionary not only in content, but also in style. Oestreicher runs a blog (ysmarko.com) that he used as a sounding board for his thoughts and ideas for this book. Blog readers who commented on his inquisitive posts shaped and affirmed his writing and he then included their commentary throughout the book. This type of book would not have been possible ten years ago. It represents a major shift in the way youth ministry is resourced–from top-down publishing house and denominational presses informing the parish worker to youth ministers creating and contributing material from their local ministry to share en masse. The resourcing shift isn’t surprising considering the parallel decentralization in almost every other avenue of communication in the 21st century. Yet Marko’s book is of the first printed books in the youth ministry field to widely embrace social media as a means of resourcing. Social media addicts everywhere are rejoicing.

For those of you who are still in love with the printed and bound word, Youth Ministry 3.0 reaches you without making you feel like you are 35 miles behind the pack. It is, after all, a book.

Youth Ministry 3.0 finds its purpose early within its pages. Marko says, “I’m hoping to describe what I’m seeing and experiencing and feeling about where we need to go so we can continue being true to our calling” (p. 26). He’s in the position to hear the voices of thousands of youth workers, and so his thoughts on the future are valuable and weighty. Before speaking of the future, he walks the reader through a history of youth culture with a simple framework. He looks at the three tasks of adolescence–identity formation, autonomy, and affinity–and traces the emphases that youth culture (and thus, youth ministry) has placed on different tasks. He skillfully honors the past and fuels a fire for change.

A recent study reported that Christianity is the self-identified religion of 10% less of the adult population in the United States than 18 years ago.1 It is easy to see why youth workers are clamoring for a renewed vision for youth ministry. Youth workers desperately want to bring their faith to teens and families in their community, and what we’ve been doing is not working. We need a new vision for youth ministry. We need a new way to bring Christ’s redemption to His people. YM3.0 brings shape to that vision.

Marko’s vision is exceptional in that he casts one so lightly; he doesn’t force a vision but rather provides a context for creating your own vision. He makes it clear that each ministry has to be as unique as the people who embody it. He places expectations on the youth workers not to be cutting edge, but to be cognizant of their particular surroundings, to be connected to the people they serve, and most importantly, to be grounded in Christ’s mission on earth–bringing mercy and grace into places of pain and sin. Latest and greatest is out. Down to earth (as in Christ came down to us, let’s live/speak/serve/forgive as he did) and connected is in.

A short read, YM3.0 isn’t the end of the story. It doesn’t purport to have all of the answers, but encourages a process of discernment to find them. Marko doesn’t propose a model that works in every situation, but gives permission for a potpourri of youth ministry models. He invites the reader to engage in the conversation. You can join the conversation with other youth workers online on his blog, ysmarko.com, and other youth ministry blogs or here on thEsource. I look forward to hearing from you. But most importantly, I hope a reading of YM3.0 will put you in conversation with the people in your ministry, youth, parents, and adults. They are the ones that matter.

mixed review of ym3.0, number 432 (or thereabouts)

this one from David Mehrle, on his studentministry101 blog:

I have just finished reading Marko’s book, Youth Ministry 3.0. I have to admit that I am a little confused as to exactly what I want to take away from this book. The first four chapters are not that impacting if you have been in Youth Ministry for any length of time. The last two chapters really throw a bone to those who are ready to step out into the next big wave of Youth Ministry. The problem with the wave is that it is unpredictable and has no boundaries. So, for those who are hoping to make the next big wave in Youth Ministry be careful as you go here. There are some things that you have to be aware of when it comes to making those shifts.

1. You have to be able to communicate exactly what you are doing
2. You will have to get buy-in from you Sr. Leader
3. You will have to train your team to think totally differently about ministry
4. You will have to risk total failure, which you better have enough change in your pocket to go there

While I agree with what Marko is presenting and can see the shift in our student culture and in the way that we are going to do ministry alongside them. I want to throw a word of caution out to those who are fairly new to Youth Ministry. Make sure you know where you are going and how you plan to get there. Because those you want to reach will be there, but those who are leading the church will not understand if you just start cutting programs and don’t communicate in depth where you are headed.

My only real big fear is that we are creating a system that is not measurable for those who live under a microscope already. Youth Ministries have for centuries shown us what the church will look like in the next ten years and I think we need to be innovative but cautious as we lead down that path.

Marko – thanks for a good read and a challenging voice to the way we minister to students on a daily basis.

not all ym3.0 reviews are glowing; some are wonderfully mixed

here’s a good, mixed review of youth ministry 3.0 from “the patrick challenge” blog:

Title: Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto Of Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, And Where We Need To Go by Mark Oestreicher.

Pages: 155.

How it was obtained: Ordered it with some other youth ministry books.

Time spent on the “to read” shelf: None. I read it right away. (I just didn’t write my review right away).

Days spent reading it: 1 afternoon.

Why I read it: I’m a youth pastor, so I figured I’d like to hear what Mark Oestreicher had to say about where youth ministry needed to go. Mark Oestreicher (aka Marko) is president of Youth Specialties, a leading company in youth ministry resources. I heard about this book through Marko’s blog (www.ysmarko.com).

Brief review: Youth Ministry 3.0 is Marko’s attempt to talk about the previous, current, and future direction of youth ministry. The book includes a brief discussion about adolescent development, a brief history of youth ministry since post-WWII, and then a few suggestions on how we can take youth ministry to the next step.

The center thesis of this book seems to be that youth ministry has gone through two phases already, and is about to enter the third phase. Phase one was driven by proclamation. It was centered around evangelism and teaching. Phase two was driven by programs. “Bigger is better” would be a favorite slogan. This phase focused on discipleship. Many churches are in this phase right now. But as youth ministers we know there is something wrong. Kids are dropping out at ridiculous rates (it is not uncommon to hear statistics that 80% of kids drop out of church after high school, this number seems to be inflated, but you get the picture). We know somethings wrong, so what do we do? Marko proposes phase three which would not be driven by any particular motivator. Instead it is present (or incarnational).

So the question is obviously how do we get to an incarnational ministry from a program (or even proclomation) driven ministry? Marko offers up a few solutions. We can focus on smaller groups, and literally have a youth group for each sub-culture in our youth. We could focus on making our youth ministries a place for a supra-culture–where everyone comes together and no one group is better or dominate over the other groups. Finally, we could have hybrid of the two. Perhaps a large group for some events, and a small group for others.

Honestly, Marko’s ideas are aimed at larger groups. Although he addresses the question of how smaller groups can incorporate this kind of thinking (on pgs. 95-96) it seemed forced. Seeing that I work with about 20-30 students, many of his ideas on how to move to Youth Ministry 3.0 seemed impractical or unnecessary.

I’m not convinced Marko has the solutions, but at least he is willing to think outside of the box to create some discussion about this topic. It is important to wrestle with, and I think this book has created great discussion and thought on where we need to take youth ministry in the upcoming years in order to stay relevant to a culture that changes every single day. One great thought Marko has at the end of the book is that youth ministers need to begin to consider themselves missionaries. We are becoming more and more distant from the culture we are attempting to reach. In order to be effective we need to begin thinking like missionaries. We need to begin studying youth culture like we would other cultures around the world. (Should youth ministers begin to take missions courses in college? That’s probably not a bad idea…)

Every youth leader should read this book and wrestle with the thoughts, problems, solutions, and overall structure of their youth ministries. There are many great little gems in this book. I underlined a lot of it as I read and digested the ideas. It only takes about 2 hours to read through. The book is short, the typeset and spacing are large. It is definitely worth the investment.

Favorite quote: “We must live incarnationally, positioning ourselves humbly and openly on the somtimes cold, dark, and scary stairwell to the underground of youth culture.”

Stars: 4 out of 5.

Final Word: Challenging.

monday morning update, may 11, 2009

ysk_logo3the weekend that was: i’m in seoul, korea, for our yskorea event. got here friday evening, and the event didn’t start ’til monday morning. so it was a weekend of great food and jet lag. we had varying forms of korean barbecue every night (fri, sat, sun), and other wonderful stuff along the way. ralph winter (producer of all the x-men movies, fantastic 4 movies, and so many other) and his wife judy, arrived saturday morning, so we’ve spent much of our time with them. they’re wonderful people, and we’ve had great conversations about film, faith, church and everything else under the sun. henneyone of the stars of wolverine is a young korean-american actor named daniel henney (originally from michigan!), who lives here now. he hosted a dinner for us saturday night (because of the connection with ralph). i sat next to him, and it was fun to get to know him a little bit. really, really nice guy, and surprisingly normal and unjaded by huge fame. people say he’s the “brad pitt of korea”, which was fairly obvious as our dinner was regularly interrupted by people taking photos and asking for autographs (which he graciously gave).

where i am at the moment: yup, in seoul. it’s actually monday afternoon as i write this in korea, but sunday night back in cali. our event started this morning, and i was the speaker for the opening main session. i was a little concerned, because i’d taken a strong sleeping pill last night (i’d not slept well saturday or sunday nights), and was still feeling really groggy and disoriented this morning. but the fog lifted, and i had a good interpreter, and i think it went well. our attendance isn’t what we’d hoped, but the word is many people were going to start coming tonite.

on my to-do list this week: i’ll be in korea until friday, so that’s most of my week!

procrastinating about: at the moment, i’m seriously procrastinating about getting ready for the full-day critical concerns course i co-lead on thursday. not ready in the slightest bit! i also have to do the final checks on the middle school ministry book this week, and write a magazine column.

book i’m in the midst of: making progress on what would google do?, and re-started “stuck in the middle” (a collection of cartoons about the middle school years).

bluegrassworshipmusic that seemed to catch my attention this past week: haven’t had much chance to listen to music, but i’m listening to a very fun album called “bluegrass worship” as i write this, and it’s cracking me up.

next trip: i get home friday noon from korea, and am home a couple days. then sunday night, i drive up to oceanside (the very north edge of san diego county) for a ys leadership team retreat, through next thursday night. it’ll be a bummer to leave my family again, but i’m really looking forward to this strategic time with the ys leadership team.

how i’m feeling about this week: pretty good, though i’ll feel better when i get some plans in place for the critical concerns course i’m teaching on thursday.

a senior pastor reflects on ym3.0

former youth pastor, now senior pastor, steve nelson wrote a great little facebook note reflecting on why he read youth ministry 3.0, and what he’s thinking about…

Youth Ministry Steve.0

“Why are you reading THAT? I thought you were through with the youth ministry phase of your life.”

Very similar words have come at me from various friends and peers over the past couple of weeks, as I have recently read Youth Ministry 3.0, a new book by Mark Oestreicher (By the way, in my opinion, every Pastor, Youth Pastor, and parent should read this book). I suppose the statements and questions of my friends make sense. After all, in my twelve years of working with teenagers exclusively, I never once knew of a congregation’s Senior Pastor, or Lead Pastor, reading anything to do with youth ministry. Now that I am the Lead Pastor of a congregation of Christ-followers, I guess the “normal” thing to do would be to forget about youth culture, youth ministry, and the youth themselves. But when have I ever fit into the box of “normal”?

Reality: youth culture is now the driving force of all culture. We can deny it, we can run from it, we can throw hymnals at it and hope to scare it away… but it is here, and for the foreseeable future, it is here to stay.

Opinion: the church in general has ignored cultural shifts for too long. Back in the day, the church, or at least individuals who followed Christ, impacted culture – not the other way around… and they sure didn’t ignore the culture. Christ-followers should be merging our faith into our culture.

Fact: congregations have been compartmentalizing youth ministry (and other ministries) instead of having one clear vision as a whole body of believers to impact culture with the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus Messiah. I, personally, have done this to the extent of building a “successful youth ministry” (meaning we grew it from a small number to a larger number), as opposed to making any lasting significant impact on the culture, or in the lives of students and their families.

Truth: teenagers are functioning members of a community of faith (as well as the “body of Christ”). Youth have much to contribute to the life and mission of the church.

I refuse to continue the trend of church pastors who are out of touch with youth culture, youth ministry, and the very youth themselves that I have the high honor and responsibility to shepherd. Hiring a full-time Youth Pastor (who is doing a fabulous job by the way) does not in any way “let me off the hook.” Being the “Lead Pastor” means that I must take the lead. So, yes, along with everything else there is to be, and learn, and do… I will continue to read youth ministry books, magazines, and articles… I will continue to seek ways to have significant influence on families and culture… and I will continue to sit down with our Youth Pastor and a group of teenagers and get to know each other over a full buffet of pizza (don’t forget the pizza)!

a ym3.0 cohort (seismos, parts 5 and 6)

seismos1a group of 17 youth workers gathered recently for a few days together, wrestling with the ideas in youth ministry 3.0. joel daniel has been posting great summaries of their discussions on his blog. i’ve reposted those here (with props and appreciation to joel daniel) in two post (parts 1 and 2, and parts 3 and 4).

there’s also a nifty little video post (still pics, set to music) of the group and their time. i won’t bother embedding it here, but you can click here to watch it.

here’s part 5, an “appreciative inquiry” around the values and practices of youth ministry 2.0:
What are the positives/priorities that we want to retain from YM 2.0?

-the development of Youth Specialties & a variety of other youth ministry specific organizations

-youth pastors (as a recognized position)

-youth missions going out

-a more professional/intentional view of youth ministry

-discipleship emphasis

-more relationally focused

-development of some structure

-more evaluation

-shift from denominational only use of curriculum/etc, to more exchange of ideas

-some veins of Christian music

-learned how to study youth culture

-development of fun/enjoyment as part of youth church experience

-beginnings of mentoring

-engagement & reflection of culture

-engaged the question “why do we believe what we believe?”

A few thoughts & reflections that occurred during this time as well:

Someone noted that youth ministry did well to learn from the education system and a variety of its practices during this time period. At that time, the educational system had the most current understanding of developmentally appropriate teaching 1176922_67297562and integration of various teaching practices. However, we also observed that we feel that the education system overall has become poorer since then, particularly with its emphasis on standardized testing, etc, and that youth ministry, while perhaps still gleaning some good practices from the established educational system, needs to either find a few model to learn from or boldly blaze the way and become the most well-informed sector of society when it comes to connecting to students. Other potential areas to learn from who are reaching & teaching youth effectively are media/entertainment, advertisers, and social networking & other web 2.0 technology. What are best practices we can glean from these?

“The point in church culture at times seems to be more about information more than relationship. For example, the question is almost always asked by parents “what did you learn?” but that’s not necessarily the point.” This basic idea that was brought up got some push back suggesting that there is always learning…but that it doesn’t have to be an upfront or formal presentation. So how do we engage “subversively”, so that they’re learning without realizing it but that it still influences their life?

and, part 6, where the group identifies the winnowed-down list of questions they want to wrestle with:
We broke up into 3 groups, each armed with the list of questions we had initially raised as well as the conversations that we had already had related to the good parts of YM 1.0 & 2.0. Each group was given the task of bringing back two questions that we would discuss, leaving us six questions total to plow through in the time we had left (we were about halfway through our retreat at this point). The six questions we settled on were as follows (some combined/extrapolated/expanded from the original list):

* What is the heart/foundation of the next wave of youth ministry (YM 3.0)?
* How is the transition we’re feeling in youth ministry a reflection of change going on in the rest of the church (if at all)? Does this correlate at all with Newsweek/blog/etc articles currently circulating? Is the need for change positive, negative, or neutral?
* What are the key pieces of youth ministry that should be shared by all, regardless of cultural shifts, denominational beliefs, or personal ministry giftings/preferences? In other words, what are the dogma (what we all agree on should drive everything), doctrine (things that we disagree on, but believe others should agree with us on) & opinion (areas we know are generally personal preference) of youth ministry practice (not theology).
* Is program really a dirty word? What part does planning/organization/structure/etc play in the next wave of youth ministry?
* How does the age bracket shift in adolescence affect what we do? What parts of the cultural definition of adolescence do we buy into and what parts do we push back on? How are we going to help students navigate adolescence and then leave adolescence at the appropriate time apart from culture but in touch with reality?
* How do we keep/make these priorities that we desire in YM 3.0 without “siloing” (separating/disconnecting) ourselves away from the rest of the church?

We only made it through 4 of these questions and so I’ll post thoughts from our discussion on each question and then close with a final post of resources that we shared with each other at our last meeting.

the feedback void in middle school ministry

ywj_logo_smi write an every-other-issue column on middle school ministry for youthworker journal. the column for the current issue is online now: it’s on the lack of meangingful feedback in middle school ministry, and how that can create problems for us.

here’s the link to the whole column.

here’s a tease:

If you teach a second-grade Sunday School class, you can tell by kids’ participation how you’re doing. If you volunteer in the parking lot ministry of your church, the cars either get parked or they don’t. If you preach sermons in “big church,” people always let you know what they think.

Really, almost every other ministry area in the church provides natural feedback. Not so with middle-school ministry. When feedback is absent, we often look to unhelpful measuring sticks to gauge whether or not we’re on the right track.

adam mclane on ym3.0

adam mclane (full disclosure: my co-worker at ys; but certainly no yes-man!) posted some great exploratory thoughts about youth ministry 3.0 on his blog recently:

I’ve been wrestling with the concepts of Marko’s book, Youth Ministry 3.0 for a long time. Actually, before I worked a YS I had been going through a prolonged set of discussions at Romeo saying in a thousand different ways… What I’m doing isn’t working anymore.

The problem was simple. I was trained and experienced at how to do youth ministry a certain way. The entire ministry was built around a youth group night of games, worship, small groups, and a talk. I had seen it work and do incredible things! Even in Romeo we had seen this ministry model draw 40+ students to a church of 120. Lives were changed, kids were discipled, volunteers loved it, on and on. We ran that thing and worked that model like a well-oiled machine. I was well-versed in all the terminology of all the other well-oiled youth ministry systems and had written tons comparing and contrasting the strength of one model over the other. But in the last few years the model tanked. Kids stopped coming. The whole thing became kind of toxic. Instead of re-arranging their schedule to make in on Wednesday night all of a sudden kids were trying to find things to do on Wednesday night so they could politely bow out. Frustration mounted and I kept saying, “What I’m doing isn’t working anymore.”

The crazy thing was my reaction to a YM 2.0 model. My response was always, even to the last day, “I know this works, something is just missing, that’s all.” I would tweak things here, re-emphasize this or that. It was never that the concept was broken. The problem was always either the kids not getting the vision of the model or my model not having the funding/support it needed to succeed. It never really dawned on me that my solution to fixing things was to kill the model and search for a better way to minister to students. My reaction was always to just work harder and to keep trying.

Pray more, blame the parents. Pray more, blame the money. Pray more, blame myself. Pray more, blame the kids busyness. In the end I was royally frustrated and a little angry at God that He had me in a place where I couldn’t fix things.

But as Marko’s book shows, there is a massive shift from what he calls “Youth Ministry 2.0? built around programs and models, towards “Youth Ministry 3.0? where the programmatic approach is, probably though not necessarily, foregone for a draw towards ministries built around affinity. (A super over-simplified analysis, right there!)

My wrestling point right now is pretty simple… how do I help ministries kill what has worked for a generation and open their eyes to a way to reach this generation. My experience in YM 2.0 environments is that they’d be happy running an un-attended YM 2.0 model if that means they don’t have to change things. Youth workers may not like the sacred cows of big church but they have certainly built some sacred cows themselves. (Remember the fury over my articles, “I Kissed Retreats Goodbye?“)

From a national perspective I’m seeing one trend that is scaring me and I don’t want it to be the solution: Killing youth ministry budgets, staffs, and programs. Please tell me that we’re not going to throw the baby out with the bath water? Simply because a model isn’t working doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t minister to adolescents!

What is a more productive outcome than that?