how teenagers transformed the church

the out of ur blog (the blog of the editors of christianity today) has posted part of a multi-part series called “how teenagers transformed the church.”

here’s the summary:

Seeker churches, emerging churches, ancient-future churches, mega-churches, house churches, Boomer churches, Gen-X churches. There is a debate occurring in American evangelicalism about the future of Christianity and what form the church should take within our culture. But is it possible that these divergent philosophies of ministry actually originated from the same source? In the coming days Angie Ward will be sharing multiple reports about the emergence of youth culture, and youth ministry, in recent American history and how this phenomenon gave rise to both the seeker movement and later the emerging church.

author angie ward has 5 or 6 interesting paragraphs about youth specialties (including the eroneous statement that ys was founded by mike yaconelli and jim burns: it was yac and wayne rice. hopefully they’ll fix that.). reading it caused an odd paradoxical double-reaction in me: pride and sorrow. here’s the one particular ‘graph that brought my response — then i’ll comment:

The founders of Youth Specialties worked to convince church boards and senior pastors that youth ministry was vital to the health and future of the church. As a result, over the last 38 years Youth Specialties has been almost singularly responsible for the professionalization of the field of youth ministry in the church.

i truly am proud of the legacy ys has. i think this organization played a critical role in legitimizing youth ministry, and, therefore, bringing healthy change to the church. HOWEVER, as i posted at length here, we’re now reaping the fruit of much of that good-intentioned legitimization. and it’s not all pretty fruit. some of it (much of it?) is calcified, self-preservationist and misguided.

my real hope and prayer (seriously, i hope for this in a way that is almost palpable) is that 38 years from now, it can be said that ys played another, reinventing kind of role in both youth ministry and the church at large. if we ever become one of the organizations that only exists to memorialize their past, justify the salaries of their executives, and protect the way we used to do things, i hope we die a graceful death and someone else steps up to do what i’d hoped for.

4 thoughts on “how teenagers transformed the church”

  1. Hopefully the role is embracing the continuation of what YS does best – loving those youthworkers and loving those students who love our God.

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