Here are a handful of innovative movements I long to see in youth ministry, and am committing myself to.
1. Go Organic, Buy Local
Youth Ministry simply must become more organic and local. of course, your practice of youth ministry is local. but i’m addressing the whole engorged body of thinking and resourcing and modeling in the world of youth ministry. Sure, national events can be great (heck, the youth cartel hosts some of them!). But remember that model church isn’t in your neighborhood, and isn’t populated by your teenagers and parents, and doesn’t necessarily share your values.
Do not listen to me (or any other youth ministry “expert”) when we tell you what you should do. we might stir your thinking or imagination (and that’s a good thing); but you and i simply must cultivate an active life of spiritual discernment and organic contextualization when it comes to our approaches, models and methods.
I don’t know how we’re going to do this. and i’m certainly not the only one saying it. But we have to work against the isolation of teenagers, particularly in our churches. This, alone, is the single biggest failure of youth ministry over the past four or five decades.
3. Models and Practices for Non-Professional Youth Workers
Sorry to be the doomsday guy, but the era of professional youth workers is going away, eventually. It might linger longer in certain denominations (like, southern baptist) or geographies (like, the south); but it’s on the decline, and it’s not going to return.
Small churches, of course, have long done youth ministry without paid staff. but mid-sized to large white, suburban churches (where the majority of paid youth workers exist) have no idea how to even think about youth ministry without paid staff; and very soon, the money is just not going to be there.
What other innovations do you think are needed in youth ministry?