Tag Archives: ym3.0

reproducible youth ministry models and ym3.0

great little essay on reproducible youth ministry models and youth ministry 3.0 on the small town youth pastor blog:

Having a highly reproducible Youth ministry model = healthy youth ministry. Right?

I argue that the best youth ministry models are the models that aren’t reproducible. I think a youth ministry doesn’t have to subscribe to a corporatized youth ministry model and can still have a very sustainable youth ministry.

I wish some youth ministries and youth pastors would be more focused about being cultural missionaries and architects than trying to follow a youth ministry model which has a clear 2-D chart on how to build a healthy youth ministry.

There needs to be more of a focus on being missional, intellectual, and transformational. Youth pastors needs to get out of their office and go outside of the church to do youth ministry.

The problem is….(I am assuming here) that about 75% of American Evangelical youth pastors don’t have a clue how to 1) contextualize a youth ministry philosophy/model that reflects their current ministry and 2) think theologically. Youth pastors look to the mega-church youth pastors/mega youth ministry organizations to do this for them. We heavily rely on the youth ministry super-heros to do the work for us.

Why do you think so many youth pastors are completely confused and frustrated about Marko’s thesis in Youth Ministry 3.0? Marko didn’t give any acronyms or charts, which as a result left youth pastors dumbfounded and clueless. Marko in a very prophetic tone is deliberately challenging American Evangelicalism youth pastors to start thinking theologically and contextually about how to do youth ministry in the 21st century. Every youth pastor should be creating their own youth ministry model.

Let’s be honest…..American youth ministry has tried the highly reproducible-mecca youth ministry model and looks where it has gotten us?

Some denominations estimate that over 50% of their youth group graduates fall away from either their faith or their faith communities upon entering college.

DANGERS of A HIGHLY Reproducible Youth Ministry Model:

* Reproducible youth ministries inherently produce manufactured products of Jesus.

* Reproducible youth ministries come off as gimmicky and surfacey.

* Reproducible youth ministries become spiritually monotonous.

* Reproducibile youth ministries are all about their youth room and youth program. Their model is very “inside” Christian bubble way of doing youth ministry. They expect all the non-church kids to come to their church event.

*Reproducible youth ministries are spiritual safety programs for church kids. It becomes more about sin management than it does about being the Kingdom of God to the world.

* Reproducible youth ministries are driven by results. Models some times equate results with numbers and the size of the group. Repoducible YM model seek after multiplication. The implication is….that multiplication is a huge priority along with transformation.

* Reproducible youth ministries build a youth ministry machine which needs to be managed or else it will destroy the youth pastor. It is called burn out. The saying of: If you will build, they will come…is so true….. But there is a high cost to pay for it….which is the youth pastor’s sanity.

* Youth ministry models rarely considers how to get students into BIG CHURCH. Youth ministry models are typically all about the youth ministry and the youth pastor. Look at the mega church across the nation….they have seperate youth ministry services on Sunday.

I strongly believe that in 10 years we will not see any reproducible youth ministry models. Youth pastors will need to get better at thinking, observing, assessing, and implementing according to their context instead of stressing out about how to import a pre-packaged-non-contextual youth ministry model into their youth ministry.

I get it….bigger youth ministries need some type of structure and systematic way to organize their youth ministry beast, and models greatly help with that.

However smaller youth ministries (less than 70 kids) don’t need to be messing around with a highly producible model. I say if you are a smaller youth ministry figure out what you do well, and do it.

Highly reproducible youth ministry models will become obsolete. You can quote me there. What we will see more of, is more contextual youth ministries telling their story to the general youth ministry public about what they are doing and how they did it. Youth pastors can learn from other youth pastors youth ministry narratives and extrapolate themes and ideas, and not a structured model.

I think highly reproducible youth ministry models have robbed youth pastors of their creativity and theological ability. Highly reproducible youth ministry models have contributed to making many youth ministries across the nation all a like. I would like to see a lot of different youth ministries doing a lot of different things rather than doing everything the same.

Youth pastors need to learn how to think about youth ministry, rather than always concern with how to do youth ministry. There is a difference. Ideals and context shape practice. We need to focus on ideas and context, rather than always being concerned about practice.

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.

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)!

dan kimball reviews ym3.0

so stoked to have my friend dan kimball review youth ministry 3.0, and call it out as a book all church leaders should read. dan is a great and unique mind, and has a quirky way of thinking and writing that i have often found almost as valuable as his friendship. here’s dan’s wonderful review:

Youth Ministry 3.0 = Church 3.0

Youth ministry 3.0 I just reread Youth Ministry 3.0 today for the second time. It is a book that is short, but it is not a book that is shallow. It’s written by my friend Mark Oestreicher from Youth Specialties. I met Marko in Colorado around 10 years ago at a retreat think-tank sort of thing we both were at. He was not yet on staff with Youth Specialties but was soon to be going there. I found an instant admiration of his unique hair style that he had at the time. I will say that his hair changes seasonally in ways that I am in awe of. It feels like every year at the Apple Convention the excitement builds for the unveiling of the new Mac products – and I feel that way about his hair. It feels like an annual event. You can sense it coming… the anticipation builds – and then there is the revealing of a new style.

I have had many fun days through the years with Marko and we went to Singapore together a couple of years ago (where he saw me with my hair drenched and flattened after a downpour).

But, this post isn’t about hair… I am writing about his latest book, Youth Ministry 3.0. I had an entirely different review written at first – and then changed it because there are many great reviews posted already looking at the content of the book you can read here. I wanted to write a different kind of review focusing on why I think this book is critically important not just to youth leaders but to church leaders in general. It really could be called “Church 3.0”.

When I read the book I had the strong “aha!” experience of when someone explores and discovers the underlying cause of a problem.That’s very different than just trying to fix the surface or exterior of a problem while the real problem still remains below. Marko addresses why we need to change, not just suggesting change for change sake, or change to keep up with youth trends. He makes a case that our assumptions may be wrong about how we go about youth ministry today. If we are entering into ministry with wrong assumptions, then we can go on and on and on in ministry building on incorrect assumptions. So this is a very, very big thing to consider and why this book is important and makes it very different from others.

Marko then does what a good historian and cultural anthropologist would do and goes back into time to trace the roots of where what we do comes from. I cannot overstate the importance of doing this. If we don’t go back to our origins to see when and why and how things developed, we then may be building on incorrect assumptions if the original reason we started doing something is now different. So he looks at the growth of youth culture first. Where did “teenagers” come from? When and how did youth ministry as we know it start? He goes through all this so we have a framework of understanding how we got to where we are today. He does it in a relatively short amount of pages which is amazing for the amount of content he covers.

From this Marko builds a sequence of phases uses a chart to track through time how we first had Youth MIinistry 1.0, then 2.0 and now entering 3.0. he breaks it down by Youth Culture Fixation, Cultural Influence on Youth Ministry, Key Themes, what drives the ministry and even a theme verse which was fun to see what he would select. As I mentioned, there are great reviews on Marko’s blog already which explore these three themes more. So I won’t repeat them – but I wanted to explore something else about this book.

Youth Ministry sets the path for the whole church to follow

I have a theory that perhaps what Marko is saying here is not just regarding youth ministry. These 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 phases definitely apply to youth – however, I am pretty convinced that they really speak of “Church 3.0” as well. That is why I think that this book should be read not just by youth leaders, but by anyone in vocational ministry as it effects every aspect of every church we are in.

When Marko talks about what influenced youth during these phases, I would make a case that these same shifts influenced the church at large, not only youth. If I am looking at what he says about “Cultural Influences on Youth Ministry” being in 1.0 we had “Language and Topics” and in 2.0 we had “Models and Success” and in 3.0 we have “Contextualization” – the description of the shift from 2.0 to 3.0 is exactly what I find myself thinking as a church planter of a church entering year 5 of our existence. Yes, there are applications of these changes that apply to specific ages such as youth. But as I am reading what he is writing, I am thinking “This book could be titled “Church 3.0”

Something I have been wondering about and this book stirred this up in my thinking again, is how influential youth ministry is to the church at large. What I mean by that is wondering if what youth ministries do now will become what churches are like in the future. I have been interested in looking at in particular the rise of some “adult” churches in the Bible belt. This may just be my perspective and incorrect – but some of the very large ones, look almost identical to youth ministries of the 1990’s. The lights, the bands, the smoke machines, the whole shebang in what the worship gatherings are like. God sure seems to be using them in their contexts and am thrilled reading about how God is using these churches. As I read Marko’s book, I wondered if what is happening in these areas is that the adult churches are to some degree to the 2.0 approach of what youth ministry was doing. Maybe California and the west coast is more moving into 3.0 earlier? I don’t know, but as I have been a youth leader for many years and then young adult leader – Marko is writing down the shifts that I saw with youth and young adults with the 2.0 to 3.0. So maybe some of the youth ministries pave the way for what the adult church does and some areas of the country accelerate faster than others or slower than others in this latest phase.

Out in California and some other places, I have seen some “adult” churches now adopt what young adult ministries were doing 10 years ago. You could take what a young adult worship gathering looked like in 1999 and the main gatherings of the church now look like that in 2009. So maybe the youth ministry paves the way for young adult ministry who paves the way for the whole church to some degree. I am drifting here, but when you read Youth Ministry 3.0, it gets you thinking about these very types of things. That is why it is such a great book. It doesn’t wrap up the ending with conclusions of what to specifically do – but it leaves you with optimism and makes you think.

I would get this book even if you aren’t a youth leader and be looking at your church through the lens of what Marko raises. I believe we should always be watching what is happening in youth minstries, as to be out of touch with them – to me, means we will lose touch in our churches as they progress to the future. I have always felt that youth pastors and leaders are the pioneers of creating the future church. They take a lot of risks and experiment with things and deal with cultural change first – and then the rest of the church seems to catch up later. So when Youth Ministry moves from 1.0 to 2.0, the church is just becoming 1.0. Then as Youth Ministry moves from 2.0 to 3.0, the church is moving from 1.0 to 2.0.

OK. Long review and thoughts. But that’s what the book does and why I think it is really “Church 3.0” in addition to Youth Ministry 3.0. It is one of those books which makes you think about a lot of things as you read it.

I would like to end this post with some Marko photos highlighting three of the various phases of hair styles that he has had since I have known him.


Marko 1.0 ………………….. Marko 2.0 ………………….. Marko 3.0

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.

good ym3.0 summary

thanks to rusty pettus for this nice summary of youth ministry 3.0:

Just finished Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher. I think I have been reading this over the last 2 months. It is only a 116 pages long but Feb. was a busy month so while on vacation I am catching up on the many half read books.

Marko identifies 3 phases of youth ministry. Youth ministry 1.0 was from its conception to 1970. Its primary focus was evangelism and correction. They wanted to convert the masses and help correct them and become great Christians. Chances are if you are around older people for very long you will see this mentality. They see your number one job as correcting people. John is sitting in the parking lot during church you need to correct his behavior. Sally is wearing X so you need to correct her behavior. Do you know what is on Tom’s myspace page you need to correct him. I would add to this doctrine. There was a strong emphasis on what is right and what separates us from all the others. This was best seen as being accomplished by proclaiming the word of God. This was when youth rallies and the like began. Much of our teaching styles started and remain in this area.

Youth ministry 2.0 was from 1970 till now. It was about Discipleship and Creating a Positive Peer Group. Our focus left evangelism and focused on making disciples out of our students. If we could help them become sold out to Jesus then their behavior would change and their friends would see it and want to know more. We would create a safe place for them at church to help them grow. The downfall to this is that we began to place more emphasis on making church a safe place. This presents itself when people are more concerned with having students safe in our place than with people from the world. Parents are more concerned with their children being safe than reaching the lost. Safety is what I see more than anything else. This was accomplished by programs. Programs drive the church today. Go to your local church and you will see more programs than items on the Cheesecake Factory menu. The problem is that we focused on programs so much that they drive us. Even if they don’t accomplish our purpose we are in love with our programs. Success is determined by the number of events and number of people attending them.

Youth Ministry 3.0 is about communion and mission. Marko is encouraging us to begin this new model today. Communion is about building relationships with people and their friends. It isn’t about programs or events but people. The main goal is to love people. Mission is about living out the mission of God in our lives. Jesus was about loving his father and loving people. We accompish this not by proclomation or programs but by being present. And while we are there we build relationships, can model Jesus, and accomplish the rest. We engage in the mission of God and this builds relationships with others and help us love them and God.

Marko gives a condensed look at a movement that is already growing. I couldn’t help but to think that this was similar to Contemplative Youth Ministry. It is a quick and easy read with 116 pages and a third of the page comments from other people. So if you don’t read it them then it will go fast. I will say that this is a must read for youth ministers because it is written by Marko. Let’s face it he has a large platform so this book is going to change youth ministry

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?