What Do I Really Want for Youth Ministry As a Whole?

A few weeks back, I attended a gathering of youth ministry leaders called the Youth Ministry Executive Council. During one of the sessions, Rick Lawrence, the editor of Group magazine, was leading us in some thinking. He started by referencing John 5:1-15 — Jesus with the man at the pool of Bethesda. Though the man’s need is obvious, Jesus asks him what he wants. Jesus forces the man to put “skin in the game” before Jesus moves to meet his need.

Then Rick had us reflect on what we want. He encouraged us to avoid churchy answers, and to get honest about expressing our deeper desires. Ultimately, Rick asked us to think about what we want “for youth ministry as a whole.” But he invited us to think about what we want for ourselves and our organizations as well.

I thought this was a fantastic exercise, one that could be used prior to an articulation of values. And I might consider adding it to my coaching program.

Anyhow…what do i want?

I wrote three categories: personal, The Youth Cartel, and Youth Ministry as a Whole

Personal and The Youth Cartel: as I sat with these for a moment, I realized that my deepest want for these first two categories could both be summarized in one word — THRIVING.

And I scratched down a handful of descriptors of what that would look like: full of life, hope, risky experimentation, wonder, freedom, growth, fruitfulness

But for youth ministry as a whole, here’s what I want:

  1. release of control
  2. rekindling of imagination
  3. leaning into collaboration
  4. tapping into imagination and emotion and being less obsessed with logic, rationality and mechanization

How about you? What do you want for youth ministry as a whole?

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Mark Oestreicher
Mark Oestreicher is a 30-year veteran of youth ministry, and the former President of Youth Specialties. Marko has written or contributed to more than 50 books, including the much-talked-about Youth Ministry 3.0. Marko is a speaker, author, consultant, and leads the Youth Ministry Coaching Program.