what do i really want for youth ministry as a whole?

pool of bethesdaa few weeks back, i attended a gathering of youth ministry leaders called the ‘youth ministry executive council.’ during one of the sessions, rick lawrence, the editor of Group magazine, was leading us in some thinking. he started by referencing john 5:1-15 — jesus with the man at the pool of bethesda. though the man’s need is obvious, jesus asks him what he wants. jesus forces the man to put “skin in the game” before jesus moves to meet his need.

then rick had us reflect on what we want. he encouraged us to avoid churchy answers, and to get honest about expressing our deeper desires. ultimately, rick asked us to think about what we want “for youth ministry as a whole.” but he invited us to think about what we want for ourselves and our organizations as well.

i thought this was a fantastic exercise, one that could be used prior to an articulation of values. and i might consider adding it to my coaching program.

anyhow…what do i want?

i wrote three categories: personal, The Youth Cartel, and Youth Ministry as a Whole

personal and The Youth Cartel: as i sat with these for a moment (we only had about 3 minutes to complete this exercise — it could have used 30), i realized that my deepest want for these first two categories could both be summarized in one word — THRIVING

and i scratched down a handful of descriptors of what that would look like:
full of life, hope, risky experimentation, wonder, freedom, growth, fruitfulness

but for youth ministry as a whole, here’s what i want:

  1. release of control
  2. rekindling of imagination
  3. leaning into collaboration
  4. tapping into imagination and emotion and being less obsessed with logic, rationality and mechanization

how about you? what do you want for youth ministry as a whole?

7 thoughts on “what do i really want for youth ministry as a whole?”

  1. I’d echo your personal and organizational responses- adding celebratory and joy-filled; fun, and general awesomeness to the descriptors.

    Regarding youth ministry as a whole – we should live up to our potential as the “research and development” wing of the church future and expand our own bandwidth to assure that we just don’t work with kids alone but expand the cloud of witnesses for our kids with as many adults as possible (despite the potential headaches of child safety paperwork); most especially including their parents.

  2. I run a youth center in Sunbury, Pa. It is operated by Christians from various churches around the area. We deal with mostly un-churched and our programs lead us to be more of a relational ministry.

    What I want most out of The Refuge is to see Jesus break cycles of darkness.
    Our youth are 2nd and 3rd generations of broken families with all kinds of addictions and heart ache.
    I would love to see God do a work to raise up a generation who owns up to responsibility of parenting, avoids the snares of drugs, alcohol, and sex (prevalent in our youth), and values education as means to contribute to our society and their future. Obviously these lofty goals come from encountering Christ and getting changed from the inside out to break these cycles.

  3. I’m in a different space than you, Mark. I want youth ministry to be more effective. I want questions of effectiveness to be asked,moving away from efficiency , and moving youth ministry away from being used to meet the needs of the other parts of the church. Families with teens have real, specific developmental needs ( as Ian Snyder references above) and holding lay leadership and ministers accountable for actually meeting those needs.

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