reproducible youth ministry models and ym3.0

great little essay on reproducible youth ministry models and youth ministry 3.0 on the small town youth pastor blog:

Having a highly reproducible Youth ministry model = healthy youth ministry. Right?

I argue that the best youth ministry models are the models that aren’t reproducible. I think a youth ministry doesn’t have to subscribe to a corporatized youth ministry model and can still have a very sustainable youth ministry.

I wish some youth ministries and youth pastors would be more focused about being cultural missionaries and architects than trying to follow a youth ministry model which has a clear 2-D chart on how to build a healthy youth ministry.

There needs to be more of a focus on being missional, intellectual, and transformational. Youth pastors needs to get out of their office and go outside of the church to do youth ministry.

The problem is….(I am assuming here) that about 75% of American Evangelical youth pastors don’t have a clue how to 1) contextualize a youth ministry philosophy/model that reflects their current ministry and 2) think theologically. Youth pastors look to the mega-church youth pastors/mega youth ministry organizations to do this for them. We heavily rely on the youth ministry super-heros to do the work for us.

Why do you think so many youth pastors are completely confused and frustrated about Marko’s thesis in Youth Ministry 3.0? Marko didn’t give any acronyms or charts, which as a result left youth pastors dumbfounded and clueless. Marko in a very prophetic tone is deliberately challenging American Evangelicalism youth pastors to start thinking theologically and contextually about how to do youth ministry in the 21st century. Every youth pastor should be creating their own youth ministry model.

Let’s be honest…..American youth ministry has tried the highly reproducible-mecca youth ministry model and looks where it has gotten us?

Some denominations estimate that over 50% of their youth group graduates fall away from either their faith or their faith communities upon entering college.

DANGERS of A HIGHLY Reproducible Youth Ministry Model:

* Reproducible youth ministries inherently produce manufactured products of Jesus.

* Reproducible youth ministries come off as gimmicky and surfacey.

* Reproducible youth ministries become spiritually monotonous.

* Reproducibile youth ministries are all about their youth room and youth program. Their model is very “inside” Christian bubble way of doing youth ministry. They expect all the non-church kids to come to their church event.

*Reproducible youth ministries are spiritual safety programs for church kids. It becomes more about sin management than it does about being the Kingdom of God to the world.

* Reproducible youth ministries are driven by results. Models some times equate results with numbers and the size of the group. Repoducible YM model seek after multiplication. The implication is….that multiplication is a huge priority along with transformation.

* Reproducible youth ministries build a youth ministry machine which needs to be managed or else it will destroy the youth pastor. It is called burn out. The saying of: If you will build, they will come…is so true….. But there is a high cost to pay for it….which is the youth pastor’s sanity.

* Youth ministry models rarely considers how to get students into BIG CHURCH. Youth ministry models are typically all about the youth ministry and the youth pastor. Look at the mega church across the nation….they have seperate youth ministry services on Sunday.

I strongly believe that in 10 years we will not see any reproducible youth ministry models. Youth pastors will need to get better at thinking, observing, assessing, and implementing according to their context instead of stressing out about how to import a pre-packaged-non-contextual youth ministry model into their youth ministry.

I get it….bigger youth ministries need some type of structure and systematic way to organize their youth ministry beast, and models greatly help with that.

However smaller youth ministries (less than 70 kids) don’t need to be messing around with a highly producible model. I say if you are a smaller youth ministry figure out what you do well, and do it.

Highly reproducible youth ministry models will become obsolete. You can quote me there. What we will see more of, is more contextual youth ministries telling their story to the general youth ministry public about what they are doing and how they did it. Youth pastors can learn from other youth pastors youth ministry narratives and extrapolate themes and ideas, and not a structured model.

I think highly reproducible youth ministry models have robbed youth pastors of their creativity and theological ability. Highly reproducible youth ministry models have contributed to making many youth ministries across the nation all a like. I would like to see a lot of different youth ministries doing a lot of different things rather than doing everything the same.

Youth pastors need to learn how to think about youth ministry, rather than always concern with how to do youth ministry. There is a difference. Ideals and context shape practice. We need to focus on ideas and context, rather than always being concerned about practice.

2 thoughts on “reproducible youth ministry models and ym3.0”

  1. While I love the article, I’m afraid I don’t share the author’s optimism that “in 10 years we will not see any reproducible youth ministry models.” Not because we shouldn’t, but because in many ways I think it is human nature to see success (whether real or perceived) somewhere else and want to reproduce that. There will always be cross-pollenation of ideas, and the imposing figure of the “big church up the road” is so often almost impossible to ignore. I know for myself that it was a very difficult thing to say “I don’t think that’s a good fit for our group of kids” when we were discussing doing things more like our local larger church. And it’s an even more difficult thing to communicate that without denigrating (or sounding as though you are denigrating) someone else’s ministry.

    Having said that, I hope we can grow to doing things with a more contextually and theologically minded approach. Fantastic article.

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