ym3.0, review me!

scott ball writes a good, thoughtful review of youth ministry 3.0:

marko’s new book, youth ministry 3.0 is a quick read that provides a fair amount of background information on the history of youth ministry, the process of adolesence, and why youth ministry needs to shift. about slightly less than a third of the book is dedicated to marko’s vision for where youth ministry needs to go in what he calls ‘youth ministry 3.0.’ truly, all youth workers should read this book if only for the fact that all youth workers should be joining in the discussion. but here are my two cents on marko’s ideas:

his vision: to see a generation of youth ministries shift from a mindset of BIG, FLASHY, and FANTASTICAL to one of small, humble, and intimate; to see a new movement of youth workers shy away from pushing students into ‘core values and programs’ and instead launching students into community (or ‘communion’ as he phrases it) and mission.

what i liked: the past several months, i’ve been on a personal journey of discovering the necessity of focusing on community and mission in our ministry. i was surprised when i started to read the book that marko’s conclusions about youth ministry were so eerily similar to my own. or maybe this isn’t so surprising. perhaps any student ministry practitioner that is committed enough to loving students and not blinded by programming can easily see where the changes need to occur. but what i liked about the book is that marko is clearly further along in his thought-processes on these ideas than me, and so i was able to glean from his thinking some ideas that i hadn’t thought of. he has some great practical stuff (that requires modification, of course!) in his chapter called ‘how do we get there?’ he has some great insight on accounting for the affinity needs of adolescents that i want to take a closer look at.

my problems with the book: my fear (marko even mentions this) is that some people will read this book and go into hyper-programming mode and will refuse to cut programs (which is a suggestion in the book) and simply add more, more, MORE! i think at times, marko unwittingly lends himself to this type of response. youth ministers are often so pigeon-holed by their church’s boards and committees on what they ‘have to do’ that in order to implement change in their ministry, they can only do so by addition. this most certainly could be more destructive than beneficial, and it certainly wouldn’t be youth ministry 3.0–it’d be more like youth ministry 2.0 BETA, now with Adobe Flash! i see this coming down the pike for many youth ministries. my advice: if you don’t have the freedom to change how you do youth ministry, don’t add more programs, just do what you can within the existing construct and pray to God that your leadership will let you change… someday.

my response: for me, i see a lot of the changes already underway in our ministry. we’ve really been focusing on shifting our perspective towards kingdom-centered mission. while they’re only baby steps, i feel like we’re lightyears ahead of many ministries in this regard. where we’re failing and need change: becoming ‘communional.’ since we’ve started focusing on mission, we’ve seen some growth in our focus on being more community-focused as well, but it’s been more accidental than intentional. i think that if we really want a paradigm shift in our ministry, we’re going to have to make more intentional moves. that’s what i want to really pray about and work on in the weeks and months ahead.

overall, a good book. redundant in some places, perhaps out of necessity, but still a good read. all youth workers should read it so that they can submit their opinions and contribute to the collective wisdom on ‘what happens next?’ i’ll be passing this around among our staff this week.

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