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 posting 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.
part 1 (searching for the right way)
part 2 (discipleship, barriers)
part 3 (intergenerational ministry)
part 4 (parents)
ok, i can’t wait any longer. i have a bunch more responses to post; but i have to post my favorite response. seriously, this just might be the best two paragraphs ever written on youth ministry (really, i’m not kidding!). there is more awesomeness in kenda dean’s two paragraphs (yeah, i asked for a sentence) than in many entire youth ministry books.
kenda creasy dean, btw, is professor of youth, church and culture at princeton theological seminary. she’s also the author of three of the best youth ministry books ever written: the godbearing life, practicing passion, and almost christian. you are not allowed to call yourself a thoughtful youth worker until you have read all three of these books (i’m half kidding, but only half).
ok. take a deep cleansing breath, then read this:
Teenagers know, better than we do, that when we ask them to be Christians, we are asking them to do a very dangerous thing. The only way out is to adopt a “safe” version of Christianity (which might not be Christian at all) that helps them become good, nice people instead of people who love others sacrificially. But as we know, good and nice “Christianity” seldom lasts past high school, since teenagers quickly learn that people can be perfectly good and nice without Jesus anywhere in the picture.
So I think in the future, youth ministry will try to re-weird-ify Christianity, highlighting Jesus’ radical actions and peculiar self-giving love, in an effort to resist the American church’s habit of trying to tame the gospel into a middle class bedtime story. If Christianity is dangerous, then we need to act like it. Teenagers aren’t afraid of risk, but they want to know that Jesus is worth it. Young people are going to demand that we, the church, be who we say we are–people who obviously follow Jesus, which makes us “weird” in a culture based on self-actualization and self-fulfillment–or they’re just not going to bother with us at all.
so, i could ramble about why i so strongly resonate with this. but i’d just be repeating what was already said, using less eloquence and punch. i’ll use more restraint here than i did in the pre-response gush.
i would, however, love to hear your responses…