Recently, I was asked, “If you were to go back and do youth ministry again, how would what you know now change what you would do?” I had quite a few things on my list, (hindsight is amazing!) and here are two of them that are directly related to the Exemplary Youth Ministry study results.
So, if I were leading youth ministry again I would…
Act theologically before programmatically.
I often looked for the next “packaged program” to help me deliver the “message.”
For years I have struggled to move beyond the “if we build it they will come” programmatic formula for youth ministry.
In my quest for fidelity to the great commission I’ve asked if counting heads in our programs is not bearing fruit (as both my experience and studies like Christian Smith’s
tell us)…then what do I aim at to judge the fidelity we seek?
Kneeling in prayer is always the best first step in responding to that question. After I did
We started our Life Teams by recruiting current & former confirmation, mission trip, and Sunday School teachers to agree to join the Life Team that already exists (i.e., parents, godparents, grandparents, confirmation mentors, etc.) in a youth’s life as intentional cheerleader in the faith on behalf of the congregation.
We centered our ministry around these informal relationships that would begin by praying for youth, being their facebook friend, going to their school events,
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
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.
I thought I was just going to dinner with my wife and kids at the Chili’s by my house one night. As the hostess seated us, we walked past a table, and there sat an adult and a student from our church — one of our Life Teams. There they were, just having dinner, catching up, getting to know each other even better, doing life together. I can’t tell you what an exciting moment that was for me. It made every ministry struggle that I’ve had around the shift from group to
Moving into a youth ministry marked by mature faith markers is slow work sometimes.
But living in Jesus' promise in
to be with us always to the end of the age strengthens us for the upward call of discipleship and evangelism that comes with the promise.
For me the picture below is one of those God sightings.
Sitting around the tables are teens, their parents, and their Life Team members (remember Life Team = Life in Christ) discussing the testimony of their own relationship
I was talking to a friend this week who wondered if all the hype about
Exemplary Youth Ministry
wasn't just that.
He was not discounting all the good stuff we’ve been blogging about but he did wonder if we were just moving on to the next new thing, the latest fad, the buzz in youth ministry these days. He wondered if we remembered that discipleship based on faith markers or what the Bible calls the fruit of the Spirit has already been around for a long time. He’s got a good point. …
[first posted in March 2009]
Earlier this week, I was reminded of an article I read about the Facebook generation. In this article Gary Hamel lists 12 ideas that the Facebook generation has toward the world. (For the full article:
It’s an interesting list to think about when we talk about youth ministry. As I have been thinking this week, the idea of “Leaders serve rather than preside” keeps coming back to me. All leaders need to be
Disconnected: Parenting Teens in a MySpace World,
Chap and Dee Clark take on a popular cultural myth that, sadly, most of us in youth ministry buy hook, line, and sinker: simply, that teenage youth do not want to spend time with their parents.
We often run into the smokescreen when recruitment for small groups comes around. We think, "I bet Jimmy or Janie’s mom/dad would be a great small group leader."
But, after planting the seed, we soon get the parent’s somewhat dejected
Exemplary Youth Ministry is really about leadership on multiple levels -- your leadership as the youth minister, your adult leaders. One of the key findings of the EYM study is that the pastor is the chief youth minister. A senior pastor who champions and keeps youth ministry central to the congregation’s culture is critical.
Now in case you are nodding your head saying, “I KNEW IT! That’s why I’m having such a hard time. My senior pastor doesn’t get it.