youth ministry 3.0 is the working title of a book i’ve mostly written, which is expected to release this fall. it’s an attempt to name where and how we’re missing the mark in youth ministry, and what needs to change in order to more truly live into our calling as youth workers.
we’ve decided to open up the book a bit and solicit youth worker contributions as sidebar comments, and i’m going to use my blog for this purpose. until late april, i’ll be posting a series of snapshots from the rough draft of the manuscript. i invite lots of comments — questions, disagreements, ideas, very short stories or examples, reflections — which will be considered as additions to the book.
by posting a comment, you are giving permission for your comment, with your screen name, to be added to the print book.
so, here’s the eleventh bit, from chapter 5:
With these three tectonic plate movements in youth culture, it’s kinda obvious why the prioritization of adolescent tasks would once again reshuffle, isn’t it?
With youth culture’s identity once again at risk, due to the dominance and popularization of all things youth, youth culture began grasping for an identity redefinition. And while the move underground was as much about autonomy as anything else, youth culture once again found itself anchorless and ill defined. Suddenly affinity became the long-leg of the three-legged stool. Affinity has become the pathway, in a sense, to identity formation and autonomy.
Finding somewhere to belong has always been important, of course. But in the old scenario, at a macro level, kids either did or didn’t belong (of course, many found a way to belong to something or some group outside of the macro level). But in a splintered youth culture, it is both easier to find belonging (affinity) and more desperate.
Burning Man is a large festival of sorts that takes place in a remote part of the Nevada [verify] desert every summer. It is Mecca to many west coast teenagers, collegiates and 20-somethings. Not a traditional festival with a program and sponsors and marketing, Burning Man is a DIY festival, part earth-worship, part performance art, part celebration of naturalism, and all party. Big party. No rules, no cops, no parents party.
Check out this framing quote from their the official Burning Man website:
“You belong here and you participate. You’re not the weirdest kid in the classroom – there’s always somebody there who’s thought up something you never even considered. You’re there to breathe art. Imagine an ice sculpture emitting glacial music – in the desert. Imagine the Man, greeting you, neon and benevolence, watching over the community. You’re here to build a community that needs you and relies on you.”
A bit trippy and psychedelic, to be sure. But this “marketing copy” is a siren song proclaiming the opportunity for affinity. “Come, be one of us,” could be the most powerful thing a teenager in today’s youth culture wants to hear.