First Third Conversations

Leveling the Playing Field by Nancy Going

EYM levels the playing field: We used to think that great youth ministry was built pretty much exclusively around a dynamic youth minister, so the church who found that person won!

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work, and they didn't win. Here’s some of what that faulty thinking produced:

  • A revolving door of youth ministers.
  • A youth ministry that is its own mini-church.
  • Fewer instead of more adult faith mentors in the lives of youth people.
  • Adolescents who have a hard time moving from these formative faith experiences to an adult faith community.

Mark Yaconelli’s work with the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project was among the first to name the pressure that such expectations produce in youth ministers in his book, Contemplative Youth Ministry. The Exemplary Youth Ministry study reinforces his findings. These churches with greater numbers of maturing Christian youth were places that had discovered everyone that is and needs to be a youth minister.  Their youth ministers -- paid and volunteer -- were good at attracting multiple adults and youth to be in significant faith nurturing relationships with one another.

Remember 22 of the 44 faith assets are about the congregation -- not about the dynamism of youth minister. How does that change what you are going to do today?

Dr. Nancy Going is a 20 some year veteran of congregational youth ministry. She coordinates the Distributed (distance) youth ministry students at Luther Seminary. She did her PhD research by interviewing adolescents from the Exemplar congregations.

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