the fine people at the adventures in missions youth worker blog asked if i would do a Q&A on discipleship, missions, and the evolution of youth ministry; and i happily complied. click here for the whole post.
here are the first two questions and the answers i gave:
Q: What has changed about the way youth workers (yourself and in general) disciple students over your career in youth ministry?
There’s been a healthy shift away from a one-size-fits-all mentality. We were really into creating “discipleship programs” that offered one path, one option, when I was a young youth worker. Of course, there’s many still pursuing this route. But, my thinking is (and the thinking of lots of youth workers these days) that a mono-optional “program”-driven approach isn’t honoring to either the disciple or to God. It’s not honoring to the disciple because it only allows for one kind of disciple, the kind that is naturally wired for the expectations and path of the program or approach. And it’s not honoring to God because it denies, at its core, the gorgeous diversity of God creation as seen in the body of Christ.
The move toward mentoring as a key theme in many youth ministry discussions is a reflection of this shift. the old approach was to programmatic; the new (and, really, super-old, in that it’s the way Jesus discipled!) is relational. The old was all about “do this”, while the new (super-old) is all about “follow me.”
Q: What’s the same?
Teenagers are living in a different world, to be sure. But they’re still teenagers, and they’re still dealing with all the developmental realities of a post-pubescent awakening. They’re still wrestling with core questions of Identity, Autonomy, and Affinity (or Belonging). All of these necessarily play into any discussions about teenage discipleship, since they were and are central to the everyday experience of all teenagers (whether they’re aware of these issues or not). Another way to say this: teenagers are still wrestling with who they are (identity), they’re still wrestling with how they’re unique and to what extent they can influence the world around themselves (autonomy), and they’re still wrestling with the question of to whom and where they belong (affinity). All of these are deeply discipleship questions, at the end of the day. Or, at least, they should be!
the remaining questions were:
Q: What’s the best “how-to” discipleship advice you’ve ever received?
Q: What’s one trend in youth ministry today that you disagree with (or want to change)?
Q: Why are (or why aren’t) mission trips good for building students’ character? How high of a priority should they be in youth ministry?
but you’ll have to click through to see my responses.