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.

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