love these blog reflections from youth workers like dain swanson who are thinking about youth ministry 3.0 and how it reflects the changes their observing in their own youth ministries:
This past weekend I was away from my normal routine and on Choir tour with the National Lutheran Choir. I have been singing with this choir for 5 years and love this group of people. Choir tour is always a great time to get away from the routine normalcy of life, see a little bit of the countryside and perform some great music at the same time.
I also looked forward to this trip because I picked up a new book about youth ministry called Youth Ministry 3.0. I was interested in it for a couple of reasons: 1, it was written By Marko from Youth Specialities and 2, I have noticed a change in the youth at Word of Peace and this book addresses some of the key points I am experiencing.
The basic idea is that there has been two major shifts in how youth ministry is run and how it reaches youth. The first was when youth ministry first became youth ministry. It was back in the 60’s and 70’s, post WWII, and churches began to realize that youth culture, for the first time, was in fact a culture of its own and need to be talked to and dealt with in a unique way. The first years of youth ministry were all about winning back the lost youth who had gone astray and pick up some new youth along the way as well.
The next shift came in the late 70’s and 80’s when the focus was on programming. How many awesome events could you plan and more importantly, how many people showed up. We are still experiencing this mentality today because “Programming or Youth Ministry 2.0 is what current Youth Directors were brought up in and are shaping their ministries after.
But youth culture has changed a lot since the 80’s and 90’s. There has been a huge change in the way youth communicate with each other. Back in the 70’s youth was defined by when you were going through puberty, now it has more to do with mental and social rather than physical development. All this to say I was thinking a lot about the ministry at Word of Peace this weekend.
I haven’t finished the book yet, but because it’s not very long I will be done soon. There are lots of good points made so far, some of which I agree with and will look forward to implementing. There are also ideas that we are already doing. But there is still a fundamental change that needs to be made in how we minister and who we minister to. The time of gauging success by numbers is over. We need t start looking deeper into how we are affecting the lives of youth. We need to begin by finding a balance between telling them how to live their lives and just living it with them. We need to focus less on making the program awesome and more on relationships.
The strange part about this book is it’s not a “how to” book. There are no formulas or cookie cutter youth ministry programs to follow because the essence of Youth Ministry 3.0 is individualizing your ministry to your community. And that only happens if you know your youth.
I am excited to see where God leads me with this book. I am excited to see where God leads all of us.