nice ym3.0 reviews keep pouring in

very nice and thoughtful review of youth ministry 3.0 from dj, at youth ministry geek:

If you’ve been in youth ministry for any length of time, you’ve likely heard of Mark Oestricher, author and president of Youth Specialties. Chances are you’ve even used his curriculum!

More recently, Marko authored his new book Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we need to go. Being a big fan of Marko, and having a ton of respect for what he’s contributed to our little slice of the world in Youth Ministry, I knew this was a book I HAD to read. And I did in 2 full sittings–which is something I never do.

For those of us in youth ministry, it seems like things are working they way they used to. Oh sure, we may have huge youth programs and kids coming in by the hundreds. But is it REALLY working? I loved this quote out of chapter 1:

“…it reminds me of the church in North America. We have all this momentum. We perceive things are going well. our megachurches are more mega than ever. Our youth ministries are better funded than ever. Youth Ministry is receiving more respect than ever. We have better resources and training events and celebrities and credibility than we’ve ever had.

So why does it seem like we’re racing into a hole?”

The book goes through a history of youth ministry, the rise of parachurch youth ministry in the post World War 2 era (Youth Ministry 1.0), and the rise of Youth Specialties and more specialized Youth Ministry in the church till today (Youth Ministry 2.0).

Marko brings us to today, most of us are still in the 2.0 mindset but we need to move passed that into 3.0 to become more effective in connecting students to Jesus and the church. How? Well, I’ll leave that to you to go and read the book. It’s not incredibly long (125 pages). But I did want to dialogue about a few of the things that got me thinking.

* As I was reading through this book, the thought that kept pacing through my head was “Maybe we need to do less! Maybe we need to take a ’softer’ approach to ministry. Lose all the big lights, loud sound systems and Christian celebrities.” Then, he said it: “One of the most important, dangerous, and courageous steps that any youth ministry needs to take if it’s going to make the shift from Youth ministry 2.0 to Youth Ministry 3.0 is to cut programs.” I”ve been increasingly convicted that we DO too much. I wrote about some of that here.

* Youth Ministry needs to move beyond the church walls. Get out from behind the mask of “corporate worship” and get out there serving, showing people the love of Jesus in a real and tangible way. This is what makes faith real in the lives of teenagers.

* What frustrated me the most, is that one of the biggest factors of YM 3.0 is communion (as in community, not the sacrament). What’s so frustrating about it, is that this isn’t something you can program for. You can’t put it on a schedule. And you certainly can’t say “Okay guys, let’s get our communion on!” It’s a product of (I believe) authentic living in the midst of our relationships with our students and each other. Marko has lots to say on this subject and he can do a much better job than I can. But it’s frustrating that this isn’t something we can plan for. It has to happen naturally.

The fact is, I think many of our American Youth Ministries are going to “fail” in the next 10 to 20 years. We’re going to continue doing what we’ve always done because thats what is safe and that’s what we’re expected to do. Personally, I’m afraid of being fired and never finding another job. I am SO convicted over this whole issue that I feel passionately about it–but if I was to go to our church with these ideas, they would think I’ve gone crazy, call me irresponsible, lazy and a whole host of other names and fire me. I think many are in the same position I am.

So how do we communicate this?
How do we share with the rest of the church that things need to drastically change in our youth ministries?

We’ll see what happens.

Pick up Marko’s book. It really is a must read. I know lots of people say “Oh you have to read this” but I sincerely think that everyone involved in youth ministry needs to take their time to read through this book and wrestle with the many problems that it brings up and how to work through them. You can also participate in his facebook group of the same name to have open and honest dialogue about these issues.

8 thoughts on “nice ym3.0 reviews keep pouring in”

  1. I haven’t read the book so I can’t really comment on it per se, but from all the reviews I’ve read, I can certainly relate to much of what Marko has been “sensing” about where YM is headed…

    But I think this reviewer is on to something that I’m not sure that has been mentioned, something that may hinder the transition into YM 3.0…

    …the fear of “losing our jobs”…

    I will admit, that is a fear of mine. I know, I know, “God will provide, have a place for you”, etc. I do believe and trust in that. However, in my weakness, I confess that there are times that I also sense the need for paradigm shifts similar to what Marko sees (going from more to less, focus on community, less on programming, not seeking to get “bigger”, being mostly service-oriented, etc.) and don’t do more to “go there” because, well, I am afraid that people at our church will question the need for me… They just want to see “all the stuff Ben is doing with/for the kids”, and less-is-more (despite some inroads I’ve made in that direction already, before 3.0 came out) just makes me wonder if the powers that be will wonder if it’s worth keeping me around…

    I guess I need a dose of Yac’s “Getting Fired for the Glory of God” hahaha.

    But, is anyone else having the same fear I have at times? Or am I just a dorky, scared, unfaithful soul? :-) (probably all of the above hahaha)

  2. angus — that is a TOTALLY legit fear and potential reality. we need to be aware of that fear, honest about it, and consider what god is saying to us.

  3. This idea of cutting programs and not spending as much on big lights and Christian celebrities reminds me of the Advent Conspiracy’s 4 main “tenants”: worship fully, spend less, give more, love all. I know Advent Conspiracy is centering on reclaiming the meaning of Christmas, but I can’t help but wonder if the “conspiracy” can apply to our American culture in general, and even youth ministry. :)

    I’ve been guilty of having a kid stop by early for youth group while I’m in the middle of setting up all the techno mumbo jumbo and then being so bold as to use that as an excuse as to not “deal” with him. God forgive me.

  4. As I’ve wrestled with all this since my comment posting, I’ve decided to evaluate the ministry I serve, and I think we are at “YM 2.5”. When I got here 4 1/2 years ago, it was probably 1.5…

    Ultimately, I do resonate with all that’s been said about this 3.0 business. I too am grateful that Marko has put into words what my heart has been sensing for some time. I am also grateful that my “fears” have been exposed to all (that I wrote about above), and I prayerfully move forward as YM continues this shift…

  5. I appreciate much of what dj has to say, but one assumption that I see in this response and that I’ve seen through events marketed across my desk really trouble me.

    I get things across my desk saying something to the effect of, “It’s time to stop *doing* church and start *being* the church,” and the program is to close the doors of the sanctuary one Sunday morning so that everyone can go out and serve. dj mentions the “mask” of corporate worship.

    I believe corporate worship can be the most “real” thing we do all week long. Unfortunately, so often corporate worship has been co-opted and commodified to the point where its theological foundations are largely undermined.

    My intuitive suspicion is that if we can recover a healthy theology of corporate worship, we will recover a healthy youth ministry as well. Commodified worship and programmatic youth ministry are two symptoms of the same problem, imho.

  6. I don’t have time to read it. I can’t stand reading, and my Sr. Pastor gives me books to read that take me FOREVER! The last book I wanted to read was Yaconelli’s “getting fired for the glory of God” and so I bought it and there it sits. Here’s the point, I loved hearing you on the Source for YM podcast. I feel like I learned a TON about what you are saying in the book and didn’t have to read it to find out. Thanks for doing that podcast and I really have already incorporated some of the things I learned from the podcast. Peace.

  7. i also read your book over the last week and posted some questions on my blog…i wonder, what if the Sacrament of Communion is the best way to be communional? honestly, doesn’t the Sacrament communicate all we want to, need to, say about Christ? that is, if we take the time to teach what communion is about and take the time to walk with students to prepare them to receive the sacrament. just a thought!

    my big question: doesn’t creating “affinity groups” just shift programming to smaller programs that further divide the church? also, isn’t the church the one place where the only commonality that needs to exist is unity in Christ?

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