a personal reflection on ym3.0

not so much a review or summary or critique, but a nice personal reflection on youth ministry 3.0, from aaron weiss (the youth guy blog):

You might not fully appreciate these thoughts as I do, (seeing as their my own) unless you are interested in the youth culture & church response as I am. I mentioned in my previous blog that I’m seeking out meetings with mentors, men of faith who share an idea of what is to walk where I’m at presently. What that’s looked like, obviously enough, are fellow youth-pastors; some retired, some now in other areas of ministry, some still very much in the game, and some walking right beside me. We chat, joke, and complain, but for the most part we talk about our students and what we’re doing to reach into their lives authentically. It’s pretty common to do youth-ministry the way you’ve always seen it done or experienced it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right fit for the local church or the youth culture abroad.

The ”BIG question” I’ve been kicking around with these mentor figures in my life is “how do I move from events driven youth-ministry to a relational ministry?” To make the distinction, for anyone who might not get this split, is that event ministry really pushes the event to be the big-ticket-item which gets students through the doors, and relational ministry focuses on uses events, gatherings, and community as a catalyst to building authentic relationships with students. Now, this isn’t to slam event driven youth pastors. There are a lot of youth pastors that operate this way and draw droves of students to their churches, but, if it’s fair to say, I’ve been feeling like our youth culture is moving towards community and relationship over the event (not that they don’t like doing fun stuff). So, how do we make this change? – We’ll, I’ve been receiving some excellent counsel from guys who have been at this a long time, and from students moving into leadership, and it all flows in the same direction, walking besides students (at least that my phrasing for it).

Mark Oestreicher’s book, youth ministry 3.0, has really excited me, for he suggests that our youth ministry has taken on two different forms that we can identify, and is moving into, or needs to move, into the third. Describing youth-ministry 1.0 as very proclamation driven and youth ministry 2.0 as undeniably program driven (this is much of what we recognize youth ministry to look like), he suggests our shift in youth-ministry 3.0 should focus its attention on communion and mission (focusing in on our students longing for belonging, affinity, and purpose). Does this mean we should be ”relationally driven?” Oestreicher would assert that we would not be driven, but present in students lives.

I gotta say, I like that! Freeing up youth workers to be walking beside their students speaks something of truth to my heart, and I think the heart of God’s church as well. What does that look like? I think it could look anyway you like, for it’ll be different compared to each student and each small group. I had a friend and fellow youth pastor share with me his frustration of producing time-consuming events that brought out very few students, but recently started advertising for a youth-band, an area of his own passion and gifting. He was shocked by the response of youth who want to engage in this community and relationship. Somehow it doesn’t seem odd that the best way he knows how to relate to students (people) is attracting relationships? Why is it then, that we still might want to pigeonhole similar youth workers into driving an events driven community?

hmmm. I think this is good stuff, and it has been heavy on my mind as of late. So there you go – if you were interested. :)

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