Tag Archives: ym3.0

a ym3.0 cohort (seismos, part 3 and 4)

seismosa group of 17 youth workers have been meeting to wrestle with the ideas in youth ministry 3.0 on a 3-day retreat. i posted parts 1 and 2 of their notes (from joel daniel’s blog) here.

here’s part 3, where the group identified the questions they’d like to consider discussing (this looks much like the process we use at our JH pastor’s summit each year):

-is the shift we’re feeling in youth ministry just a reflection of a shift we’re feeling in a larger church? how does this engage with newsweek/blog/etc articles

-how does the age bracket shift in adolescence affect what we do?

-are we pushing into adulthood prematurely or too much?

-as we sense a shift in youth ministry, how do we wisely do this in a church that may or may not be accepting?

-how do we engage the whole church in a holistic picture of ministry?

-what are the things we fear about change?

-how do we bridge sub-cultures? or should we try? is it ok to let students solely identify with their own affinity groups?

-what are best practices for partnering together & supporting various ministries?

-what defines adolescence? who defines adolescence?

-what do we think affinity is?

-how does story affect what we do? what is story?

-what’s 4.0? if we’re always behind the cultural curve as Christians, how can we get ahead of it &/or create culture instead of respond to it?

-what about programming? is there any redemptive piece of it? (endnote #54, pg 72)

-do we balance the stool or do we lean on one? prioritization versus throwing stuff out? what if it’s not a stool (ie, there’s more than 3 defining pieces)?

-what’s the common ground between various generations (1.0, 2.0, 3.0) of youth ministry?

-what are the battles/rumors corollated to youth ministry that we can address as a group? create a Camp Carl Creed

-what things in the moment do we retain as principles, instead of realizing they’re tools?

-how can we be aware of & strategize our approach to reflect the the present cultural changes? what are the markers of cultural change?

-what should be counter-cultural? what can we roll with in culture?

-how do we “lead up”? the things that we’re learning…how do we spread these to the rest of the church body? how do we lower the walls between youth ministry and the rest of the church?

-how does family play into all of this?

-how do we create better transitions? how do we stop losing so many along the way?

and here’s part 4, where they dig specifically into youth ministry 1.0 (using an approach called “appeciative inquiry”, for which they reference this blog post):

“unity is not everyone being in the same room” – too often when we talk about unity in the church, we think that it means we have to create some supra-program that will make everyone feel happy. however, as we grapple with affinity being a defining part of adolescent development and youth culture, how do we balance out intentionally reaching into and even creating sub-groupings of students where they feel free to be open and honest. this specific quote was made in the context (i think…my memory is rubbish) of being a reminder that just because we come up with a program that brings everyone into the same physical location, that doesn’t mean unity was actually achieved (anyone remember more clearly why this was said…i have contradicting thoughts in my own head…but they’re all interesting : )

“2.0 was too often emulation for the sake of population.” – numerical growth was seen as a priority by many in YM 2.0. to achieve this growth, everyone looked to see what the successful (large) youth ministries were doing and tried to do the same (if so & so has a disco-ball & they doubled in size, we should get a disco-ball, too!). the problem with this was that it often didn’t account for the change in culture from the emulated ministry to the emulating ministry. our tools have to be contextualized. this doesn’t mean that we don’t study/learn/converse with others to find out what they do that’s effective (which may or may not have to do with #’s), but we always run the ideas through the sieve of where we’re actually ministering.

Kingdom Stories – reflecting on God’s ongoing narrative

“the Kingdom Story captures all 3 questions of adolescence: Who am I, How am I unique, Where do I belong, So how do speak these things effectively?” – we spent a lot of time talking about the story of the Kingdom of God during our three days and how it is such a healthy and helpful framing for youth ministry.

during the second part of our initial conversation, we did an appreciative inquiry of Youth Ministry 1.0. if you’re not familiar with appreciative inquiry, check out Bob Robinson’s summary of it. here’s the outline of best practices we identified in YM 1.0:

What are the positives/priorities that we want to retain from YM 1.0?

-YM 1.0 reflected its culture (Great Awakening, growth of country, churches role)

-passion for evangelism

-creation of missionaries to youth culture

-established boundaries for students

-solid organizations such as FCA, YFC, Young Life

-saw need, stepped out…willing to us an out of the box approach


-use of “para-churches” that are, at times, more able to be true to the mission & passion b/c they don’t have some of the politics of “churches”

-approached through a community mindset instead of through an individualistic church mentality

a ym3.0 cohort (seismos, parts 1 and 2)

picture-65this makes me almost giddy with excitement: there’s a group of youth workers on a three-day retreat, which they’re calling seimos (“Seismos is a gathering of 17 youth leaders from 4 states & 15 churches representing over 9 different denominations. We’re meeting for three days to dig into what the future of youth ministry might be.”). they’re using youth ministry 3.0 as a guide/prod for discussion and dreaming. really, it would be difficult for me to think of a context in which i’d be more excited for that book to exist (maybe a discussion amongst the leadership of a church).

they’re going to be posting their discussions, which i’ll try to copy or link to here.

here’s post one, with the point of their gathering. a snippet:

We’re using Mark Oestreicher’s Youth Ministry 3.0 as the base for our jumping off point. Marko’s done a great job of creating a very readable and provocative manifesto about where we’ve been in youth ministry and some possibilities about where we could. While we’re all in different places and agree & disagree with different parts of Marko’s ideas, it’s great for starting the conversation and allowing us to figure out how it applies to our context. Over the next several days, I’ll be posting notes from our time as I’m able to and hopefully some reflections as well. Look for the first installment of who’s here to come during lunch time

here’s a second post (on joel daniel harris’s blog), that lists the 17 attendees, some of their book recommendations, and a few other things.

short reflection on ym3.0

a nice, short reflection on youth ministry 3.0, by paul kelly:

In his recent book, Youth Ministry 3.0, Mark Oestreicher calls for a dramatic shift in youth ministry. He says youth leaders have emphasized events and activities–our youth ministry program–in a hope to reach youth for Christ. However, that just doesn’t seem to be working any more (if it really ever did). Marko suggests we need to adjust our approach to youth ministry to be more personal. He suggests we may need to do less activity so that we can invest more in relational ministry with students.

I couldn’t agree more. And, for the small church, this emphasis is not just a good adjustment to our culture. It is really at the core of what a small church is . . . family.

In most youth ministry conference over the last ten years or so, conference leaders have asked youth leaders to invest more and more energy in planning and implementing lots of programs. Believe me, I have led many of those well-intentioned conferences. However, I have come to believe that your students need less planned activity . . . and more of you.

Being a youth leader is not really about planning activities. Being a youth leader is about discipling youth. I don’t mean to imply that there is something wrong with developing a youth ministry program. Youth need opportunities to dig into Scripture. They need opportunities to invest in the lives of other people . . . to have ministry demonstrated and to practice it. They need opportunities to build relationships with each other. However, if your investment in your youth ministry program means you don’t have time to spend time with students–to see how their Algebra test went or find out how they are working through a problem they shared with you or invite them to talk about their new commitment to prayer–you are planning too much.

Perhaps the most important skill a youth leader can learn is how to be present with teenagers. Jesus was an amazing teacher. He did great things. But, I somehow believe the greatest impact he had on the lives of his disciples was his presence.

interview with tim schmoyer

podcast_144the podcast interview i did with tim schmoyer the other day is available as a free download now. i enjoyed the format, since tim moderates, but it’s a free call-in, and lots of other people talked and asked questions. what you can’t see when you listen, though, is that 50 of us were also on a live online chat, typing in comments as the discussion went on. that was a combo of serious stuff and smack talk.

click here to get to the episode in itunes, or here to listen to it steaming online.

according to tim’s blog, some of the things we talked about were:

* Experiential education
* Enabling community
* The process of changing to 3.0
* Joining God in His work
* Cliques and small groups
* Contextualizing ministry for sub-cultures
* A lot more…

the ym3.0 reviews, they keep on flowin’

here’s a nice youth ministry 3.0 review by dikran koundakjian (it’s armenian, he says — the name, that is, not the review):

I recently read Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher. Over the year I have really come to respect Marko (as he is known in youth ministry circles). He seems to me to be the kind of guy who invented the “drink a pop through your friends sock” game, yet there is so much depth and thought put into the things he writes. I appreciate his vision and insight to the future of youth ministry.

I’ve read a lot of youth ministry books in my day, but this one could be used as a text book. I loved the history and back story of youth ministry. I had never seen it described quite so well. It was cool to read about the men and women who cut a path for me to do what I do. We get to see the heart and reason behind what they did. As a someone who was raised in 2.0 and trained in 2.0 techniques, reading this book brings me fear because we sit at the edge of 3.0 and I wonder if I am equipped and ready for what lies before us.

Most youth pastors, if they were honest, would agree with Marko’s suggestion that 2.0 youth ministry isn’t working anymore. The data we read, and more importantly the relationships with the students we love show that more programs, bigger groups and fancy ministry are not leading the students we care for any closer to Jesus. As I read through this book, I was challenged to think through everything we are doing in our youth ministry and if it is helping teenagers encounter Jesus. Marko uses words (or makes them up) that I am afraid will all too soon become buzz-words that lose their meaning.

“Do less” and “Go small” seem to be the themes of Youth Ministry 3.0. I can understand and even support those concepts to a point. I believe that for many ministries, this is the way to go, but to make an assumption that all ministries should be like this can easily be construed as a one-size fits all form of ministry. I don’t believe that is what he is saying, but it could be viewed that way. The concepts of being communional and missional are what most youth pastors are trying to attain, but many of us are missing the mark. I admit that most of us in youth ministry find that it is actually easier to throw together another program or activity to “meet the needs” of whatever we come across. There are way too many parents, Sr. pastors and church boards that would feel like they are throwing aways money if the youth ministry is not “doing stuff”. One of the ideas Marko shares does make me uncomfortable. In the book he asserts the idea of having several smaller youth groups within the same ministry. I understand what he is saying, but what about connecting with the church as a whole? What about teaching the students how to worship and serve together across social group lines?

On a side note, throughout the book there are comments in the margins from other youth workers. I appreciated that not all of them agreed with everything he was saying. I liked that they allowed honest input to a blurry subject matter. My issue is not with the comments, but with the trend in youth ministry books where they put all sorts of things in the margins that distract me from what I am reading. I wish there was a way to put this information somewhere else in the books. Maybe I’m just getting old.

If you are in youth ministry as a paid staff member or a volunteer, you’re a Sr. pastor or you’re a parent, you should pick up this book and read it. Dare to dream of a ministry that is truly impacting lives for the Kingdom of God.

live youth ministry chat


i’ll be joining tim schmoyer on his “live youth ministry chat” this friday to talk about youth ministry 3.0.

this is a great little resource tim offers on his site, life in student ministry. each friday at 2pm eastern, tim hosts a conversation on a particular youth ministry topic. it’s free to join in, and is a basic conference call line, where anyone can fully join in the conversation. for a listing of past conversations (most of which are available for free download on itunes), as well as some of the other upcoming conversations, click here.

the call this friday is at 2pm eastern. the call in info is: (724) 444-7444 and enter ID 19105# (it’s free, but in the modified words of ryan seacrest, “long distance charges may apply”).

a short ym3.0 response

this one from danny bowers, on his chasing daylight blog (btw, the book by that title — “chasing daylight” — was a fantastic book):

I just finished this quick read of Youth Ministry 3.0 and really enjoyed it. It was a book that really encouraged me for these two reasons

1. It affirmed some of the thoughts i have had about ministry the last 2 years. I really do see Mark O’s trends between Affinity, Autonomy & Identity in the past. I never grew up in church or youth group so i see the ‘past’ with a different set of eyes. I also see the future with a different set of eyes and most ‘traditional’ ways of youth ministry that do exist kinda rub me a wrong way. Not in a way of wanting to see students know Jesus but more in a ‘is that the best mindset’ for youth ministry
2. I enjoyed the detailed historical look, trends that influenced those youth ministry decisions and hearing what that did for youth ministry today. I love seeing how the past affects the present.

The book did really open my eyes to a very real concept for youth pastors. We MUST continue to think deeply, clearly and passionately about youth ministry or we may repeat the past in a negative way.

One disagreement, ok not really a disagreement but something i am trying to wrestle with on my own that the book also brought up, is that i believe youth culture is very much more today than ever before a sociological experience. I believe in Mark’s statements that our ‘youth groups’ are really going to be units of students that in their own way have identity, affinity & autonomy. But my concern is how does the ‘average’ youth ministry in the USA allow the sociological difference to exist with fragmenting the overall ‘group’. The challenge will be for youth pastors to build leaders to be able to ‘sit on the stairwell of youth culture’ and be a significant voice for that group of students. I think a major part of that voice needs to be showing how Jesus’ heart is for all people to be part of the same body.

my “wrecked for the ordinary” interview

jeff goins, on his “wrecked for the ordinary” blog, regularly conducts an “8 questions with…” interview with an author. jeff sent me a list of 8 questions about youth ministry 3.0, and posted the results yesterday on his blog.

here’s one of the 8 questions (with my response). but click through for the rest of the interview.

7) As a youth leader, what’s something that you just wouldn’t risk getting fired over (i.e. a nonessential)?

Hmmm. This is a very interesting question. I think I would risk getting fired over anything that I passionately believe – whether that’s about approaches and values, or about theological issues. So, I wouldn’t stand my ground on things like particular events or programming bits, but I would totally risk getting fired over a massive collection of things like: the roles of volunteers, the emphases and values of the ministry, our desire to help students meet the radical, life-altering, revolutionary Jesus (in other words, I have no interest in perpetuating the desire to create nice, compliant, church attending kids), the inclusivity of love, the call to justice, and a whole bunch of other things!

how ’bout you guys? what would you risk getting fired over (from a ministry position)?

a personal reflection on ym3.0

not so much a review or summary or critique, but a nice personal reflection on youth ministry 3.0, from aaron weiss (the youth guy blog):

You might not fully appreciate these thoughts as I do, (seeing as their my own) unless you are interested in the youth culture & church response as I am. I mentioned in my previous blog that I’m seeking out meetings with mentors, men of faith who share an idea of what is to walk where I’m at presently. What that’s looked like, obviously enough, are fellow youth-pastors; some retired, some now in other areas of ministry, some still very much in the game, and some walking right beside me. We chat, joke, and complain, but for the most part we talk about our students and what we’re doing to reach into their lives authentically. It’s pretty common to do youth-ministry the way you’ve always seen it done or experienced it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right fit for the local church or the youth culture abroad.

The ”BIG question” I’ve been kicking around with these mentor figures in my life is “how do I move from events driven youth-ministry to a relational ministry?” To make the distinction, for anyone who might not get this split, is that event ministry really pushes the event to be the big-ticket-item which gets students through the doors, and relational ministry focuses on uses events, gatherings, and community as a catalyst to building authentic relationships with students. Now, this isn’t to slam event driven youth pastors. There are a lot of youth pastors that operate this way and draw droves of students to their churches, but, if it’s fair to say, I’ve been feeling like our youth culture is moving towards community and relationship over the event (not that they don’t like doing fun stuff). So, how do we make this change? – We’ll, I’ve been receiving some excellent counsel from guys who have been at this a long time, and from students moving into leadership, and it all flows in the same direction, walking besides students (at least that my phrasing for it).

Mark Oestreicher’s book, youth ministry 3.0, has really excited me, for he suggests that our youth ministry has taken on two different forms that we can identify, and is moving into, or needs to move, into the third. Describing youth-ministry 1.0 as very proclamation driven and youth ministry 2.0 as undeniably program driven (this is much of what we recognize youth ministry to look like), he suggests our shift in youth-ministry 3.0 should focus its attention on communion and mission (focusing in on our students longing for belonging, affinity, and purpose). Does this mean we should be ”relationally driven?” Oestreicher would assert that we would not be driven, but present in students lives.

I gotta say, I like that! Freeing up youth workers to be walking beside their students speaks something of truth to my heart, and I think the heart of God’s church as well. What does that look like? I think it could look anyway you like, for it’ll be different compared to each student and each small group. I had a friend and fellow youth pastor share with me his frustration of producing time-consuming events that brought out very few students, but recently started advertising for a youth-band, an area of his own passion and gifting. He was shocked by the response of youth who want to engage in this community and relationship. Somehow it doesn’t seem odd that the best way he knows how to relate to students (people) is attracting relationships? Why is it then, that we still might want to pigeonhole similar youth workers into driving an events driven community?

hmmm. I think this is good stuff, and it has been heavy on my mind as of late. So there you go – if you were interested. :)

ym3.0 reviews keep a’comin’

this one from tim holman:

I just got finished with this book by the president of youth specialties – Mark Oestreicher. I was taken back at his honest report about students and church. According to Mark 8 of 10 students in the church after graduation never return.. never. It isn’t possible to sum it all up because it was one of those books that doesn’t start repeating itself after the first chapter. If you are in youth work I highly recommend you stop what you’re doing and go get a copy of this book. It is depressing and highly hopeful all at the same time.

Mark says that Adolescence used to be from 14.5-16 years of age giving our grandparents back in the holler a whopping 15-18 months to prepare for full on contributing adulthood. Today adolescence starts as early as 10.5 and can go into the mid to late 20’s. That is a 15-18 year prep before a “kid” feels as if she is really contributing to society.

Youth Ministry 3.0 is as you guessed it opposed to YM 1.0 and 2.0. Not that these “paradigms” of youth ministry weren’t appropriate for their times but have become outdated and widely practiced amid dramatic drops in effectiveness.

1.0 driven by a need for Identity (who am I?), formed after turn of the century (1900’s), main model – proclamation and correction.

2.0 driven by a need for Autonomy (What will I contribute?), formed around 1960’s-new millennium, main model – discipleship and positive peer groups

3.0 driven by Affinity (to what and whom do I belong?), formed after new millennium, main model – community and mission.

The need for identity and autonomy are still very present but are formed through students having their answers to affinity answered. This is about the 10th time I have heard that people today are in need of two conversions instead of one. First a conversion to belonging, second a conversion ot believing.

The only problem is that if we institute this new paradigm as a program we will be left very disappointed because it will be viewed as “forced community”. This new outlook on relationships will in one part be very positive for the church because it is forcing us out back into our community to establish REAL relationships with those disconnected from real Christian Community.