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 sixth bit, from chapter 2:
My proposal: a question of priorities
I have a proposal, upon which the rest of this book rests. I haven’t seen this suggested elsewhere, and some might think I’m out to lunch. There isn’t – yet – research to back up this proposal; but I think the proof is in the pudding of youth culture, for anyone who keenly observes the changing lives of adolescents in general.
My proposal is: while these three adolescent tasks (identity, autonomy, and affinity) have continued to be the defining mud-wrestling pit of the adolescent experience, the prioritization of the three has shifted through the various epochs of modern youth culture.
In the earliest days of modern youth culture (post World War 2 through the 1960s), identity was at the top of the priority list for adolescence in general.
Once youth culture was widely accepted, and playing a more significant role in western culture at large (1970s through the end of the century), autonomy got upgraded into the top priority spot.
And in this new era we find ourselves in (post-millennial turn), the dominance of youth culture (a shift in which youth culture became the dominant culture of our world), affinity now takes its turn on top.
I’ll unpack this notion further in the next three chapters. But I’ll tease this point now: this is where youth ministry is failing. We adjusted to the first change in priorities (from identity to autonomy), but we’ve been slow in our response in the second change of priorities (from autonomy to affinity). Youth ministries are failing because they are built on assumptions and values and methods that are outdated for the teenagers we passionately want to serve.