Issues in Youth Ministry: Buddy Rathmell

Issues in Youth Ministry: Buddy RathmellWhat do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is struggling with today?

  • I think often youth ministries are often healthier than the churches so you have the issue of kids living youth ministry and leaving the church. I think they often taste real community and then when they get in the real world they can’t find anything like they had in the past.
  • I read somewhere if students don’t lead they’ll leave. I think if a student isn’t involved in leading or serving in some manner by their junior or senior year they will often begin to check out. There are exceptions of course but I think God has created each of us with gifts and when we use them our faith often grows.
  • We are so stinking comfortable as a country. Reading books like Bruchko and The Heavenly Man almost makes me long for persecution to increase our faith and our hope in the resurrection.
  • Churches and parents often want activities for their kids when they themselves are not modeling a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • We need to believe in students and their ability to minister effectively to their peers.

What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is responding to effectively?

  • I think we have responded well to being real with kids and talking about some of the issues in a more genuine way than we did 10 years ago.
  • Youth pastors are being much better trained in relational ministry as opposed to program ministry.

In what ways does youth ministry need to change?

  • Unleash students to ministry.
  • Believe more in students.
  • Take some risks.
  • Live for eternity and not this life.

Buddy Rathmell is a youth worker missionary in Japan working with teenage American military dependents. Find out more about him and his ministry at

[Read previous authors and posts in this series, “Issues in youth ministry.”]

Posted on November 29, 2006

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