how would you characterize the future of youth ministry?

help me think about this.

i’m working on my closing general session talk for the national youth workers conventions (first one is in san diego, next week!). and i’ve decided to talk about youth ministry: past, present and future. i’m hoping this will be an affirmation of how the collective of youth workers have reflected culture in good ways and bad ways as we try to live out our calling with teenagers, as well as a vision-y nudge toward our collective need for change.

i’m trying to find a few words to best describe a preferred future, and would love thoughts from anyone.

i have a handful of variables i’m using to describe where we’ve been, where we are, and where i hope we can go. but i’m having trouble landing on a few important words for the future:

First question: if youth ministry past was “proclamation-driven”, and youth ministry present is “program-driven”, what’s our hopeful ‘driver’ in the future? my first thought was to say “kingdom-driven”. but that’s SO broad, and requires quite a bit of theological unpacking to be meaningful. i am considering “missionally-driven”, which also requires some unpacking (i’m not talking about taking missions trips, but about helping teenagers live into our present calling to be active participants in god’s kingdom work, here and now, with the assumption that that ‘practice’ will form a lifetime of praxisy faith that will sustain them long after they’re in youth group). ooh, maybe “praxis-driven”? ha, look at me, using all P-words. rick warren would be proud.

Second question: if youth ministry past was focused around key themes of EVANGELISM and CORRECTION, and youth ministry present is focused around key themes of DISCIPLESHIP and POSITIVE PEER GROUP, then what would be the key themes of this preferred future? a brainstorm of some of the word-themes i’m considering: COMMUNITY, MISSION, KINGDOM, JOURNEY, CALLING, HOLISTIC, FLUID. i want to be careful not to merely use buzz words, which some of these could easily be.

whatcha think?

70 thoughts on “how would you characterize the future of youth ministry?”

  1. Marko- Here’s my take (for what it is worth)

    FIRST: Youth Ministry future shall no longer be “-driven” but claim the driver’s seat.
    Specifically, it is time to drive the church into her/our future. We have the message (proclamation), we’ve programmed the message (even with intentional purpose, greetings Rick Warren), but has the message been transformative? I know that we all might be weary of Barna’s and Soul-Searching’s challenges regarding our ministry, but……
    The proclamation and the program of youth ministry need to be our entire churches. It’s gonna hurt the ears of those ecumenically minded and especially sound dissonant coming from a YS stage, but perhaps now is the time to stick inside our own walls of doctrinal faith, and begin to transmit to “spiritual but not religious” young people and adults alike the message, values, theology, and the uniqueness of being Lutheran, Baptist, Mormon, Evangelical Methodist, or Roman Catholic
    SECOND: The word, therefore, is communion.
    The theme is what brings and keeps us together, what feeds us, and how do we image Christ throughout the world, both individually as well as corporately (as church.)
    As potentially divisive as the first answer just sounded, we can only come to a greater appreciation of each other after having fully owned what is ours. Our societal discomfort with the seemingly extreme nature of Islam is that we no longer have sense in our mainstream faith the radical nature of Catholicism or the reformative nature of Protestant churches.
    We’ve been attempting to impact the head (cognitive), hearts (affective), and hands (behavioral) of young people. Perhaps it is time to begin to aim towards their feet – – – giving them a (spiritual) home in which to attain maturity in faith, to which to call upon throughout their lives, and from which to “go out and make disciples of the nations.”

  2. I think the preffered future is one that will be respid driven. I feel as though students will soon want less and less of wanting to be networked, programmed, pushed, and shuffled. We will need to offer rescue, rest, and renewal of all types to help kids relearn the value of being content, focused, and purposed on why being with God is better than being plugged in with the chaos.

    Key Themes: Authentic, Organic, Emotive

  3. i really think youth ministry is heading toward a “Missional driven” model. it needs to so we can equip young people to live missional lives. it takes a re-thinking of how we “do” youth ministry. if we are moving past our institutions and fortresses and are living in post-christendom (frost,hirsch)it must change. it takes some unpacking, but necessary.

    key themes – missional, kingdom

    sorry marko, you recommended the book. lol. you are speaking my language.

  4. “Formation Driven?” Discipling students to be missional people.

    I’m also willing to bet we’ll need/see a return to the “proclamation” model

  5. i like presence-drivin.

    also, i think relationship drivin. proclamation and program really seem to leave out relationship.

  6. I definitely think the future seems to be “people-driven” [to go with your p-words]. Not to be cliche, but there’s a greater emphasis on community, both locally and globally. It seems like this trend could continue as this batch of teens and young adults get older and become leaders of their communities and countries. There’s definitely a focus on the value/worth of others and showing that value to them. It seems like students are owning the call to help the poor, the orphans, and the widow… rather than bypassing it or assuming someone else will do it, students are saying, “Hey, if we don’t, who will?” They seem to be more action-driven.

  7. I like presence-driven because it can be used for understanding practicing the presence of God (personally and as an example for our students), have a missional vibe for presence in the community to meet needs, and an incarnational emphasis with the students themselves.

  8. Had to look up Praxis
    (1. practice, as distinguished from theory; application or use, as of knowledge or skills.
    2. a set of examples for practice.)

    I like the praxis-driven thought. Much more hands on. Missions and missional living is about hands on application of the Gospel.
    I think that this would fit well with the theme of being Authentic.
    I work with 10 boys on sunday mornings and have know them for 3-4 years. They know almost every good and bad thing going on in my life. They know the things I celebrate and the things I struggle with. I live my life and faith authenticly in front of them and they see the example. The word for this around my house is “genuinity” A word that my wife made up that refers to the level of someones genuineness or authenticness. They (my students)appreciate that I am real with them and not just giving them the “jesus” answer. Students want authentic connections, authentic examples, and authentic experiences. My students that participated in Frontliners this summer are still talking about it and practicing missional/servent living some 3 months later.

    Praxis and Authentic

  9. Mark, I think you are right staying away from “kingdom”- it would require a lot of unpacking and the word means different things to different people.

  10. “Praxis-driven” makes sense if it refers to the right practices and implementation of a lifestyle of following Jesus. But there is a danger of simply trying to “do the right things” instead of address transformation of the heart, so it would require unpacking too. Plus, praxis is a cool word that everyone needs in their vocabulary!

    “Missional-driven” makes more sense since it refers to going back to the mission Jesus gives us, which seems to incorporate praxis and a whole lot more. But it would require a paradigm shift for some.

    If you like “p” words, how about “pilgrim-driven?” It’s a stretch, but it speaks of a journey of faith and elicits Old Testament imagery. Plus, pilgrims travel together. Students are looking for a faith that fosters movement, meaning, community, and transformation, all stemming from following Jesus with their lives.

    Key theme I’d suggest: Radical (to borrow a Shane Claiborne word, meaning both going back to the roots of our faith while also bringing about radical change in our world)

  11. I agree with Kara about the people driven idea. I believe the way we are going to reach teens is by modeling for them the relationship driven ministry. For 25+ years of youth ministry, I have believed this is the only model and the only thing I have to base that on is I believe that is how Jesus did his ministry. We must see and hear others with the eyes and ears of Jesus, and model this for our teens. This goes with my second answer and that is theme: Mission and Esteem. The teens I have been around all talk about making a difference in their world. Some do it in a positive way, others in a very negative way. But, it brings a self worth, a cause, for the teen to feel good about themselves. I see the missional way of ministry becoming more and more prevalent in our society.

    Well, that is my .02 worth. And yes, I still love Jr. High kids and absolutely LOVED this past weekend – a retreat full of Jr. High kids!!!

    See ya in St. Louis.
    keep praying, seeking and serving

  12. Hmmm… good questions, marko. My gut reaction to your first question, is that the future of youth ministry will be truth-driven. But — like you said with kingdom-driven — that’s a bit broad and needs some unpacking. Because, one might say that all of Christianity is “truth-driven”, etc. While that’s true, I think “truth-drivenness” is coming into and will come into further play in youth ministry. Youth today (in my opinion) are searching desperately for truth in whatever form it may take, and will do whatever it takes to find truth. Hence, the increasing popularity of spiritual practices (i.e. lectio divina, etc) in youth ministry among other things. Take New Monasticism — that’s an example of young people searching — and finding? — the truth in Christianity in ways that we in the American Protestant church haven’t in the recent past. As for the ‘relationship’ aspect mentioned earlier, i don’t think that quite gives what will drive youth ministry its full due: a youth can have a relationship with the youth minister, for example, but it may not be completely genuine (the youth minister wants the kid to come back in order to increase the groups numbers so he shows up at the kids’ baseball games); the relationship is not true. there are so many examples, etc.
    so, to say it again, i think youth ministry’s future driver is truth.

    i could elaborate and try to make more sense of it, but i’ll just go ahead and stop here. :)

    good questions… thanks for getting me thinking!

  13. I think presence driven says everything about us being incarnational and also brings in the personalised approach of relationship.

    For q2 I think calling needs to be in there and something that is outward looking; ie a youth ministry that is not so self absorbed but one which is active and sensitive to the needs of a watching needy world.

    Will the sessions be available to hear online or for purchase for those of us across the Atlantic. I was delighted to be able to attend my first NYWC in Charlotte last year but the budget won’t extend that far this year! Blessings for a great convention season.


  14. Mark great questions!
    1. I sat here for 5 minutes trying to think of some new phrase, but missionally-driven kept sticking.
    2. words to add to the list: Healing, Serving, Expression, Dialoguing, authentic, and follower.

    There is my two cents….

  15. I like presence driven as well. It can encompass both God’s presence and the presence of others. Themes include relationship, praxis, community.

  16. Honestly, I’m not sure…Many many years ago tony Campolo, always way ahead of the curve, said that our youth ministries were not asking too much of kids..we were asking too little…that they needed to be challenged to respond to the “great causes” of the world in serving Jesus. I believe he was right then, and we are seeing the proof of that with a renewed passion for social justice issues around the globe. Also, our friend Bob Carlton rightly points out that a church or a youth ministry that is intent on attraction, salesmanship and programs, don’t understand this culture…it is about “incarnation”. It is about showing up in the lives of people where God is at work, wherever that is, rather than needing to attract them or bring them to our thing…no matter how amazing it might be. There still is a need to nurture and train and mentor and equip…but being “incarnationally-driven” seems to be consistent with the Jesus we are serving.

  17. ysmarko comment:

    thanks, all, for your great input so far! i\’m looking forward to reading more. there\’s a bit of a swell on \”presence-driven\”, i\’m seeing (of course, i\’m asking for input, not a vote — but i thought this deserved comment). i have two reservations about it:

    1. it\’s a book title (well, \”presence-centered\”). i don\’t want to imply that mike king\’s excellent book is the blueprint i\’m suggesting (it\’s a great book). this is one of the reasons i\’m using the broader \”program-driven\” for youth ministry present, rather than \”purpose-driven\”, which could seem like a slam against that book (which i have no intent on doing).

    2. i\’m not sure it conveys enough of what i want to say. it contains part of what i want to say, so maybe PRESENCE becomes one of the key words. for some of you, the idea of \”presence\” seems to be another way of saying \”relational youth ministry\” – which, of course, is key. but we\’ve been saying \”relational youth minisry\” (and many doing it) for years, and we still need change — not away from relational youth ministry, certainly, but to something broader that includes that. others have included more of mike king\’s ideas, that presence is about atuning kids to the presence of god. yes, i like that part.

    i\’m very intrigued by scott miller\’s comments. COMMUNION is a great word and could embody much of what i\’m thinking.

  18. Interesting, communion is the word that jumped out at me. Communion in the sense of community including relationship, praxis and guided by the presence.

  19. 1. Servant/service-driven. We must continue to teach and learn that Jesus was not about collecting all we could get, but about letting it all go so that He could serve.

    2. The Kindgom of God is such an absolute focus of Jesus’ ministry. Real Fellowship seems like the right focus for the future. To again be able to say that “they will know we are Christians by our love” would grow the Church in many ways.

  20. 1. I like the idea of Messy or rather Messy Identity (think McKinley or Yaconelli)
    2. I like the idea of the Kingdom … I don’t like the usage of relationships because they (Relationships) are the means not the goal of youth ministry. Jesus is. This whole idea of that of which we have in common keeps coming up to me.

    Anyways, just a few thoughts.

  21. Maybe another way to say “presence driven” is incarnational. I really dig the incarnational ministry paradigm – stuff. Additionally, I think that it resonates with a lot of what is being said in regards to the desire emerging generations have for authentic community etc.

    Another thought…should youth ministry be headed for a more family-driven approach? Most will agree that the most significant influence within an individual’s life is their family. If this is true, should we focus on building up families, not just youth? If that’s the case, I think there’s no better time than the crisis (loosely used) of adolesence to pour into the family.

    Just a thought I’ve been wrestling with for a while…

  22. my first reaction about the future of youth ministry is that it will be Uninstitutional/deinstitutional or simply the faith in student ministry will be away/apart/distancing itself from the Church as an institution. Things such as facebook, myspace, texting, emerging/postmodern paradigms are all fairly new concepts that are drastically changing the way we “do”/”think about” student ministry and the church..

  23. I think if Christ had come today, he might say something like “The Kingdom of God’s reign is like the internet” … Christianity needs to become like the internet in functionality. We’ve seen the internet change the world dramatically in roughly 13 years. Millions of small networks connecting together to form one large network that somehow works together to change the world. Globalization is the world as we know it whether we like it or not. Christ Followers (myself included) need to grasp that the church surpasses all walls, all borders, and Christ is our head. The kingdom of God is advancing into the remotest parts of the world (like the internet), but we struggle to fill our churches here in North America. I believe as we grasp the idea that the church is global and the idea that we too can be missionaries here without going anywhere, we will get excited about reaching the world again and when we stop focusing on ourselves, God will do a mighty work.

    To answer your questions more to the point:

    1. Mission-Driven. The God-given mission of the church is all encompassing and global. To live in community and humility. To serve selflessly. To reach the lost for Christ and evangelize to the *whole* world, starting with, for us, our youth groups.

    2. All the words you used Marko, and all the words listed in the above comments. Christ is all things to all men, and we need all of them, some more then others, depending on where we are doing ministry. There is no one answer, there are no simple solutions. We need to struggle over this stuff and flesh out what these words mean in our own lives and pray and fast over how they will affect our kids!

    In closing, I will go on record to all youth workers, don’t be afraid to push your kids hard with truth. Love them and teach them at the same time. I have almost entirely cut out “Friday night activities” in favor of better/deeper Bible studies and regular outreach events. We are growing in leaps and bounds, most importantly in the quality of our faith, but also slowly in numbers. These kids want real depth.

    Growing with my kids, struggling over what not to watch and listen to, how to use my money, etc., well, as hard as it’s been for me to be so transparent (God *had to* start with me), it’s affecting our whole “church”.

    Grace and Peace Marko, I am really looking forward to the convention!

  24. Hello from the UK. Great to see a blog post NOT talking about Halo3 :-) I think moving towards a missional model of youth ministry is essential. Certainly here in the post-christian European context, it’s critical for youth workers to reject the idea of young people as consumers of christian programmes and to model a ministry of service, even sacrifice. I think David’s earlier comment about Campolo was just right. Young people want to change the world and they find various avenues to express that passion, but we ask so little from our own youth groups. So it’s ‘missional’ from me, which spans incarnation and proclamation. Have fun in San Diego!

  25. 1. what about relationally driven. the need to be christ-like in each relationship we have, whether with strangers, family, schoolmates, etc. OR if you must use the p-words, how about persistently driven?

    2. what about seperating truth from lies and loving all?

  26. One word: Authentic.

    Our kids are crying out at the top of their lungs, which some times results in cuts to their bodies -they need to see an authentic faith which starts with authentic adults.

  27. I like the “presence-driven” model. It keep the Ps going, and it’s something really important. As teens of this generation become ever more fragmented, hurried, and torn between the expectations of parents, teachers, pastors, coaches, and everyone else who has a plan for their lives, teens need a place to just “BE”.

    They ravenously hunger for connection, depth, community…texting at all hours, sending out MySpace bulletins. When I asked my kids what is their number one fear, it was BEING ALONE. I think that the church can become of amazing relevance to the emerging generations of discontent, disjointed teens by having a place where they can be fully PRESENT and engaged, find the PRESENCE of God, and connect with the PRESENCE of each other in deep ways no offered by our disconnected world.

    I like presence-driven.

  28. My dream for youth ministry of the future would drop the “driven” modifier. Partly because I think it has run its course, partly because Jesus didn’t drive people, he led them.

    Anyway, my dream would be that youth ministry of the future would be a) integral–that is, it would be seen to be a necessary part of the whole congregation, necessary to being a missional church. No church would see itself complete without some kind of youth ministry.
    b) integrated–Youth ministry would no longer be an isolated entity from the wider congregation. In the future, teens and adults will need each other. (See Kenda Creasy Dean “Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church”)
    Finally, you ministry will have c) integrity. It will say good-bye to gimmicks, bait-and-switch activities, and cheap immitations of what appears to be working at the church down the street. It will recoil at even the thought of inviting teens to play Halo 3. (Did anyone else see that article?) Instead, youth ministry will be about the quiet yet joyful, serious yet hilarious, common yet extrordinary Way of living a life baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

    The end.

  29. I really feel like Scott’s comment on communion captured a lot about where our themes are. And my answer to the first question is connected to the idea of being disciplehood-driven (although Scott had a good point about driving, not being driven). To unpack this a bit, perhaps the future of youth ministry is to be found in affecting conversion in the hearts of our youth and causing transformation. I’m not sure what this looks like further fleshed out, but there are my thoughts.

  30. i would hope that the future holds a recapturing of the arts or a creative spirituality and youth ministry. but that is me.

    to pull together this in a few single words might be a bit too modern for the shift you probably want to express

  31. Marko,
    First of all, thanks for modeling a request for health. Too often we drown with help a short distance,or a few keystrokes, away.
    Which leads me to my suggestions:
    I like your idea of kingdom-driven but I agree that this requires some unpacking. And it presents a few hurdles with how some hear the word kingdom. It’s precisely because it needs unpacking that it is such a rich term which is not easily replaced. Suggestions would be commmunity or kin-dom for what they’re worth.
    key themes: Shalom, reconciliation, justice, inclusion, relationships(interconnectedness)
    Hope it helps,
    Jeff Jaekley

  32. Problem in youth ministry that most needs to be addressed: There is a seperation between Christianity and society even in youth who are Christians. THey see the church as something that doesn’t carry over into the rest of their lives. This is said much better by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns in their new album “The Altar and the Bridge” At the same time the church is spending too much time and money reflecting the culture around it so that we are losing what makes us special and set apart (see Holy).

    That is why…
    1) Connection-driven – lead youth to connect their faith with the rest of their lives and show unchurched youth how the church can speak to or connect with their lives.

    2) Calling – getting back to the calling of the church to be seperate from the world and then ministering from that separation. Now I am not talking about the walled off seperation that the early fundamentalist movement seemed to seek, but the kind that so obviously sets the church apart from society in a postive way that people are intrigued enough to ask about it, in a way that people marvel at but can’t comprehend because it is coming not from us as people but from Christ and the Spirit transforming us.

    It may seem impractical but I think youth ministry can do this in the near future with the upcoming holistic approach as well as the movement away from program driven ministry which required a simulation of the culture to work.

  33. you know how much I love crystal balling

    question #1
    I can imagine that the future of ym has no “drivers” – that the era of buzzwords and TLAs (3 letter acronyms) is over; that ministry conceptualized as something like concentrated orange juice, distributed in snazzy packing to be stirred locally is over; that top down programs and personality cults are over – that youth ministry is no longer driven (if it ever actually was)

    youth ministry can no loner be surged, pushed, forced or any other word like driven

    question #2
    in this non-driven word, I suspect things that evoke imagination, rather than bound our knowledge, will animate being with people of any age
    i.e. paintings & sculpture & outdoors & music & dance are more like to evoke than some new buzzword or sentence combo

  34. also, to your core question:

    how would you characterize the future of youth ministry?

    i would say bleak & disturbing – like a patient in search of new healing promise, mired in palliative care

    on the other hand, I sense that outside of the ministry & churchianity bubble we enable (if not create), young people hold a tremendous of amount of hope for what creation holds (despite my generation’s efforts to consume almost everything they can)

  35. As I read through many of the comments and looking at where your at I can see a sort of Trinitarian thing going on here: “Proclamation” God spoke and the world was created. God spoke His Law to correct His peoples’ life through the prophets; “Program” God gave us the Way, His Son. Jesus gathered His disciples and taught them using all sorts of fun stuff (parables, healings, miracles, etc.); the future? Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17) I can agree with “Presence-driven” based on this, but also we can look at this in terms of what Jesus commanded the Church to do before He left: “Go and make disciples of all nations…” We call this the Great Commission, so how about “Commission-driven”.

    Just some thoughts.

  36. it struck me on my bike ride

    is ym stuck in a holy saturday moment ?

    are we not willing to name death ?

    do we want to simply jump from crucifiction to resurrection ?

    In facing death all the ideas, opinions and images in which we wrap the gift of life unravel. We see what is really there and it is rarely what we supposed.

    Holy Saturday liturgically symbolises that great tract of time and space between one way of knowing – that death concludes – and another way of seeing which includes full understanding. The first feeling is of utter loss. “We will never see him again” and there is really no consolation for this because it is irreversibly true. At least we will never see him in the same way ‘in the flesh’ which is the only way we knew.

    Every true human friendship – and every kind of relationship aspires to perfect friendship – evolves beyond fear and self-consciousness. It becomes ever more a sacrament. We take such gifts for granted, that’s part of the gift. It’s a fruit that has grown and should be eaten. But then we learn that it’s not the end. After the fruit there is death which has to separate again before final union is realised. “It is good for you that I am going away..” Jesus told his friends. And when re-union happens it is something quite new because a third presence is there – the space in which two solitudes meet, the go-between who was always there, the invisible, unobtrusive, Holy Spirit. We really grow up with the sending or rather the receiving of the Spirit which opens our eyes to see all that is really there as well as all that we had misunderstood.

    The best is to grieve before death happens and nature often gives us this chance if we can face it. Jesus tried to prepare his friends for his leaving but they could not understand who he was and so could hardly be prepared for losing him. So they were scattered and the community broke up, held together probably by the women waiting for what they did not know.

    Someone calculated we spend in all two weeks of our life waiting at red traffic lights. So much of life evaporates in mindless, impatient waiting in line or for bureaucracy to work or rectifying mistakes or just getting small things done. So much of the fruits of our labours are not what we planned and so many hopes fizzle out. This is part of the Holy Saturday meaning. Yet it doesn’t have to be a waste of time. It can be a holy waiting, an enlightenment without the light (this is faith and hope), a blind vision, in which simple acts of kindness in ordinary daily affairs give us enough of the light of love by which to see our way. Embracing the ordinary that lies between Friday and Sunday, accepting the uneventful, staying faithful to commitments even when the novelty has worn off: this is the ascesis of the ordinary and it is the only cure for the conditioned boredom of our culture.

  37. So interesting the swell on “presence-driven” .. but for me that feels way to undefined to a freshie. I LOVE praxis…but I also love people-driven. It’s overly simplistic but communicates the best thing about the COMMUNION idea as well… which is the unique person at the core of every youth ministry.

    Someone said to me the other day, after her father passed away, that no two children have the same mother. Methinks also, perhaps the future of youth ministry is less of a prescription and more of a preventative cure… no young person has the same “youth ministry model”.

    Embracing the uniqueness of our communities, our kids at various stages and phases of adolescent development and youth culture, poses the question for me that at some deeper and broader levels…

    The future of youth ministry is unique communion between Jesus, people and the communities they live in.

    Because the other P-word I really like is “place-driven.” Again, it just opens the door to talking about exegeting our individual communities, issues and seeing Jesus in the midst of that.

    Hmm – but “Place” is probably a trigger word for attraction based models for too many people.

    wow.. lots of thinking though.

  38. i’m very heartened by d.scott miller’s comment (2nd from top)–yes yes yes!

    the youth ministry of my future is “discernment-driven.” a friend was a chaplain at a private high school, and often included long (5 min) periods of silence in school chapel time. the kids said that was the only time in the week they felt free! see the work of david white and colleagues at Candler.

  39. 1.) Shining a flashlight on the movements of God.
    Spiritual Companioning.

    2.) Spiritual Direction, a bridge to the sacred.
    Mirror Companioning –
    Mark Yaconelli’s, Contemplative Youth
    Ministry. This ministry is setting the pace
    for the future, so much so veteren youth
    workers are becoming trained Spiritual

  40. I agree with the comment below about “presence” driven. We should be focused on what the Lord wants us to do in our youth ministries. We should be praying for the Holy Spirit to show up and let Him be in our driver’s seat, versus the program mindset that we all seem to get in sometimes. As far as words for the future – I think missional and kingdom focused help center in on God’s presence in our ministries.

  41. Hi Marko, when reading through, you mentioned Praxis – but I wonder that maybe we should be focusing on Christ-driven, Praxis will come through if our ministries are Jesus centred in all that we do. If young people don’t connect with the active love of Christ then Praxis is not so easy to work out, as then it becomes self driven, focus on self rather than Christ and the communities where we live, or meet in. I agree with some of the above comments, such as connection-driven etc.

  42. in order to continue the P thing…i think “parent driven” should be the word…mainly in the sense that i’ve encountered lots of parents who just give up on their role in raising their kid in the faith and they may even bring them to church or make them come, but they don’t want to hear anything about their role in training the child in the way he/she should go. i’d rather focus on training and equipping parents than training and equpping students. students faith is typically stronger as the legacy of faith in his/her family is and that’s the only way for our youth ministries to function in the future. everyone has a family, it doesn’t have to be just mom and/or dad, but whoever they live with under one roof.

    it also has to be real, relevant, and clear. we confuse kids a ton.

  43. mark-o,

    i’m off the driven thing. i was never really into it to begin with. it was one of those things that looked great on paper, and made you sound more together than you may have actually been. If you were actually able to implement it in it’s ideal form, you still wound up having a bunch of kids who would know the answers, but were still lacking in form and practice.

    i agree praxis and communion are cool. they do embody a lot of the ideas that we’re working toward, but keep in mind that whatever word(s) you pick will become buzz words. So pick carefully, and use something that will have longevity beyond the sale of a book and the temporary press that follows.

    I am not going to offer any suggestions here, but keep this in mind, as I’m sure you have…YS has such a broad reach past denominational barriers and such a distinct voice in the YM community that
    whatever it is you come up with (or more correctly, what God gives you to say) needs to have a pre-existing depth and resonance or it will hit and splash and then be done.

    i am tired of new phrases and “the next best thing” things, as they all come across to me as money makers and shallow.

    so just love your kids, love those around you and draw what you know is beautiful. community comes and thrives when it is simply acknowledged and acted upon. and we know relationships are temporary, and influence is short lived. so the bounds of our ministries are marked by the depth of the love we share through and in Christ with these kids in their lives.

    i had a parent tell me the other day that being involved was coming to the fun stuff, not sun morning, evening or wed night. involvement does not equal fun. that sounds really soup nazi-ish saying it, but we know that’s not our focus.

    sorry…disorganized rant.

  44. Some super quick and random thoughts:

    1. I don’t like the “driven” either.

    2. The future of youth ministry will need to
    embrace the particular and contextual. The days of the cookie cutter youth ministry are over.

    2b. If this is true, then youth ministry will focus more on theological conversation then education for teens. (esp. mid and late adolescents)

    2c. The pressure to compete with the youth ministry down the street and all their razzle dazzle with communities embracing, knowing, loving, and walking beside students in tanglible, often less flashy, often non-programatic ways.

    3. The extended family of the church will take it’s responsibility to help parents raise teens more seriously and youth pastors will be leading them in ways to do this.

    4. Over the past 10 years a shift has happened. A majority of parents now actually consider themselves to be the primary spiritual nurtures of their kids. (this might not be the shift) The shift is that youth pastors have caught up and more than ever before believe that to be true as well. However Functionally most youth ministries don’t do squat to actually support parents in these rolls. Often they contribute to the opposite.

    The Future will hold youth pastors who stop brow beating parents with the “you are the primary spiritual nurtures of your kids” which most already know, and begin actually helping parent’s do it. This may happen in ways we have not discovered yet, additionally, via tools that lead parent/kid conversations, encouragment, parental mentors as well as well as youth mentors, a church support system.

    5. Church leaders will continue to talk and learn about systems thinking and how youth ministry is effected/affected by the unique system in each church.

    6. I think that hospitality will be an ever increasing gift for the church and youth ministry in the future. Genuine Hospitality might even approach our love for the gift of leadership in the US. Hospitality after all is relational, it’s missional (that is looking to the needs of others), it’s organic, it’s communal, it’s particular and contextual.

    7. The Youth pastor’s role will change when youth pastors remember why they got into ministry in the first place. Not for programs to lead, but to pastor kids. These pastors will rediscover what a pastor is and does and this is how they will spend their time.

    i’m not sure about words.

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