First Third Conversations

Celebrating Exemplary Youth Ministry

By Dr. Nancy Going, Director of the CYF Distributed Learning Program at Luther Seminary  

Every now and then, one comes across an idea or a piece of work that reorients one’s way of thinking. For us, at Luther's Center for First Third ministry, the EYM study has done just that. Ten years later, the Exemplary Youth Ministry study is STILL a brilliant gift to the church.  It’s a gift in that the study was ecumenical and national. It’s a gift that offers statistics and stories. And it’s a gift because of its focus on the faith maturity of young people. Simply stated, no one has ever done a study like this before or SINCE. No one has ever identified what works in youth ministry based on that goal, with this depth, and with these conversation partners.  WOW. 

It has changed everything for us here at Luther Seminary.  

For the past ten years, we, the Children Youth and Family Ministry leadership and teaching team at Luther Seminary, have sought to allow the Exemplary Youth Ministry Study findings to both permeate and shape how we teach and equip leaders in the church. In so doing, we have developed a very different kind of degree program because of what we now understand about the practice of youth ministry and we are now asking different questions of congregations and church leaders. 

Youth Ministry is central to Congregational Ministry

Some of the primary findings of this study center on the life and spirit of the congregation as a whole, as well as its leadership, namely the Senior Pastor. No longer can ministry with and for young people be handed off to a sole youth worker, paid or volunteer, and take place in the “youth room.” That reality not only changes the congregation’s posture toward youth ministry, but it also changes the expectations and ideas of what constitutes vibrant youth ministry. This makes youth ministry absolutely central to congregational ministry. 

Whether you explore the study and its results for the first time or AGAIN, or buy the Spirit and Culture of Youth Ministry book, we’d like to encourage you.  We know there’s a lot there.  We know it will take a while to digest what it says and what it means for ministry within your context. Connect with us.  We can help you with that.  

And don’t give up. Keep at it. Sit with it. Let it stir within you. And be open to letting it ignite a new way of seeing ministry with young people. We believe congregational ministry with young people is vital if young people are going to have a vibrant and mature Christian faith. The price for not wrestling with these ideas is high. So, join the adventure. We want to be celebrating YOUR exemplary youth ministry with you!  

Join the conversation on!

Nancy Going is a life-long youth minister, who loves Jesus, other people learning to love Jesus, her husband Art Going, and the two new families that are her kids and grandkids. See more >

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