Issues in Youth Ministry: Mark Oestreicher

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

[Oestreicher, Mark]
Redefining ourselves. We know the song-and-dance of attractional youth ministry didn’t really work, but most youth workers (and certainly the collective voice and thought) don’t know where to turn instead. So we’re starting to talk a new talk, but we’re still using the same ol’ bag o’ tricks.

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

[Oestreicher, Mark] Same thing we’ve always responded to effectively – namely, connecting with real kids in their world; being there; the ministry of presence. This hasn’t changed. Youth workers with a heart for teenagers (not a heart for programming or speaking or bigness) will continue to have an impact no matter what their thinking or theology or programming.

In what ways does youth ministry need to change?

[Oestreicher, Mark] We need to go deeper, helping student experience and internalize a real and tangible and thoughtful faith that isn’t built on fun youth group times; and we need to help students translate faith into real life serving and loving of the whole world.

Mark Oestreicher is the President of Youth Specialties. Visit his blog at

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

Posted on December 5, 2006

  • All three of these responses point to where I am heading as far as strategy and that’s discipleship. I haven’t the foggiest if it’s the right direction, but it seems right to me. Seems like most of what I hear from youth guys is that teens want something more, something deeper.

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