a nice, short reflection on youth ministry 3.0, by paul kelly:
In his recent book, Youth Ministry 3.0, Mark Oestreicher calls for a dramatic shift in youth ministry. He says youth leaders have emphasized events and activities–our youth ministry program–in a hope to reach youth for Christ. However, that just doesn’t seem to be working any more (if it really ever did). Marko suggests we need to adjust our approach to youth ministry to be more personal. He suggests we may need to do less activity so that we can invest more in relational ministry with students.
I couldn’t agree more. And, for the small church, this emphasis is not just a good adjustment to our culture. It is really at the core of what a small church is . . . family.
In most youth ministry conference over the last ten years or so, conference leaders have asked youth leaders to invest more and more energy in planning and implementing lots of programs. Believe me, I have led many of those well-intentioned conferences. However, I have come to believe that your students need less planned activity . . . and more of you.
Being a youth leader is not really about planning activities. Being a youth leader is about discipling youth. I don’t mean to imply that there is something wrong with developing a youth ministry program. Youth need opportunities to dig into Scripture. They need opportunities to invest in the lives of other people . . . to have ministry demonstrated and to practice it. They need opportunities to build relationships with each other. However, if your investment in your youth ministry program means you don’t have time to spend time with students–to see how their Algebra test went or find out how they are working through a problem they shared with you or invite them to talk about their new commitment to prayer–you are planning too much.
Perhaps the most important skill a youth leader can learn is how to be present with teenagers. Jesus was an amazing teacher. He did great things. But, I somehow believe the greatest impact he had on the lives of his disciples was his presence.