at the youth ministry exec council this week, in washington, dc, we had an interesting morning chat around the subject of “the future of youth ministry”. it wasn’t overly deep or profound — just a healthy discussion with lots of great questi0ns. the organizers wanted to kick-start the discussion with three short presentation on the next 10 years:
the future of the word (me)
the future of the church (richard ross)
the future of youth ministry (dave curtiss)
it was a bit of a daunting task, to share some kind of reasonable discussion-bearing fodder about the future of the world, in 5 minutes, to 40 of the key leaders (who i assume are all as well read or moreso than me) in evangelicalism. anyhow, here’s a summary of what i said…
The world in 10 years
(a ridiculously subjective summary by Mark Oestreicher)
Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind (one of the best books I read last year) is primarily about the change in culture that will demand more right-brained thinking than the dominant left-brain thinking of the past few decades. He talks about the need for leaders to be creatives and empathizers, more than (the former) logicians and knowledge workers.
In one short chapter, Pink offers a three-part summary of the primary change we’ll experience in the next 10 years (of course, Pink’s book is written to business leaders, so keep that in mind):
A few facts from the book:
– Each year, universities and colleges in India produce 350,000 new engineering graduates.
– Half of the Fortune 500 companies now outsource to India.
– 1 out of 10 IT job will move overseas (to Asia) in the next 2 years; 1 out of 4 by 2010.
Our issue isn’t the outsourcing of jobs, of course.
But what will it mean for our affluent and resourced churches and youth ministries when our country, religiously, looks more like Europe, and the thriving, model-creating influence in the church is coming from Asia? Will be have the humility to learn and grow?
Quote from the book: “The result [of massive automation]: as the scut work gets off-loaded, engineers and programmers [think youth workers!] will have to master different aptitudes, relying more on creativity than competence, more on tacit knowledge than technical manuals, and more on fashioning the big picture than sweating the details.”
Nobody predicted that Western teenagers would so quickly skip over the already slow and tedious technology of email and so fully embrace the instant real-time social technologies of IM, texting, and MySpace.
MySpace has already replaced the mall, and is THE place for teenage social networks. But all we’re doing so far is talking about the dangers.
A few facts from the book:
– the U.S. has more cars than licensed drivers
– self-storage is a $17 Billion industry in the U.S. alone
– the U.S. spends more on trash bags annually than nearly half the nations of the world spend on ALL goods.
The impact: the search for empathy, beauty, play and meaning.
Columbia University’s Andrew Delbanco: “The most striking feature of contemporary culture is in the unslaked craving for transcendence.”
This is our story! Empathy, beauty, play, meaning and transcendence? That’s our stuff! And we know the inventor of those things!
One more thought, NOT from the book
Many sociologist and culture writers are talking about a major shift in identity, from…
An identity rooted in individual and national (I am autonomous, I am how I define myself. “I did it my way”. The Marlboro Man. Anything larger than me is a nationalistic connection.)
An identity rooted in local and global, or what some emerging leaders are cutely calling “glocal” (I am defined as part of a ‘local’ community – but local isn’t geographic, it’s however I define my community; and, I see my identity more rooted in being a citizen of the world than in being a citizen of my country.)
Obviously, this has massive implications for us in church leadership and youth ministry leadership, as most of our theologies, approaches, assumptions and methods are built on individual/national identity frameworks.