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Where youth ministry is going

Where is youth ministry going?I really don’t know exactly where youth ministry is going. There’s been a lot written on this subject, especially lately, but no one really knows for sure. It’s all tainted by our own values, experiences, and perceptions of what we see in the circles we run with.

I know this is definitely true for me. I tend to be involved with more conservative circles in youth ministry. Just like everyone else, I have a set of values that serve as a set of lenses for how I perceives shifts and decisions, too. What I share over the next several days is all based on that limited perspective and experience.

I’d love for this to be a discussion where we can talk about some of these things because I’d really love to hear what you guys are seeing out there. It’ll be interesting to see how my observations align or don’t align with your observations and vice versa.

I have 3 trends to discuss with you guys that I think are starting to take place in our approach to youth ministry, all of which really excite me! But there’s 1 trend that’s still not happening that I wish was a trend. Maybe if I rant hard enough about it in my last post of this series youth ministries will actually start doing it. We’ll see. ;)

Before we jump into the series tomorrow, I want to hear your initial thoughts on where youth ministry is going and what trends you see taking place that will shape our future. Comment below!

question
QUESTION: What 3 trends do you see taking place in youth ministry? What is 1 thing you wish was a trend that isn’t?

P.S. Just for kicks, read through a series I hosted back in 2006 where 25 youth leaders shared their thoughts on, “What needs to change in youth ministry?” Contributors include Marko, Adam McLane, Greg Stier, Joshua Griffin, and more. Funny to see what’s changed and hasn’t changed in youth ministry since that was written 6 years ago.

Posts in this series


Posted on January 24, 2012

  • Rich Landosky

    One of the “trends” (and I don’t know if it’s really a trend or just the easy way so we always default to it) that I’d like to stop and turn around is in the area of programs vs. relationships. I don’t have an issue with running something well and doing it with excellence. BUT, I think we can so easily get distracted trying to make it the “next big thing” and trying to make it as cool as something the world has to offer, that when students show up we’re so busy “doing” to run the machine we’ve created that we miss “being” with the students we’re supposed to be there to serve and love.

    Another trend that I’ve seen in a number of churches that I don’t care for is a very disjointed student ministry. I’m OK with having separate middle school and high school pastors. But I’m seeing more and more of this where the two ministries don’t work and flow together and they each kind of do things their way. There needs to be a cohesiveness: same core values, same vision and direction, same “rules”, same philosophy of ministry to students and parents, etc. This is also true of student ministries that function as almost completely separate entities from the rest of the church.

    • http://Xposed2Jesus.com/ BrianFord

      I’ve been saying for years that “programming” only gets in the way. I have seen first hand how it keeps youth workers busy doing rather than being. By the time the “program” starts they more focused on making sure it runs as they planned instead of connecting with students.

    • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

      Yeah, ya need both programming and relationships, although I prefer to call programing “structure” just because it has a different and hopefully more accurate connotation than what “program” has tended to become.

      • http://peripatew.com Luke McFadden

        I like your working of structure. We’ve been using “framework” as we trying to move away from the word program.

      • http://www.facebook.com/clint.rothell Clint Rothell

        Personally, I used to hate programming because, honestly, I am organizationally impaired…but the longer I am at this, the more I appreciate the relational structure programming brings. If done well, the programming can set the relational experience. For example the program (or structure) of small groups sets a fun, safe and intimate experience for teens to grow in Christ. If the structure (or programming) wasn’t there, I’m not sure teens would feel safe to share. So, I’m not sure it is possible to do relational youth ministry without programs that provide the relational structure needed.

        On the other hand the structure of our main Sunday night program is made primarily of games, music, message, and then grade meetings. The first part (games, music, message) is…well…chaotic. What I mean is it takes a LOT of work for that hour of programming (ALL WEEK! But I’m not bitter :) to happen. And, it is feels the least relational of everything we do. (I think because it’s our biggest gathering.) On the other hand, the “grade meetings” (based on the “team room” model) take less time for preparation and have far more impact relationally. In fact they almost don’t have a “program” feel to them by the time the students are seniors – the structure has become second nature and the relationships have taken over (but not without the structure).

        Programs help facilitate relationships. But, programs must be relationally driven. My guess is we would probably all agree that programs exists to serve relationships, not the other way around.

        Rich and Brian: Could you please give specific examples of programs you feel are unnecessary? Are you talking about the main gathering (games, music, message)? I’ll admit, I still resent the program feel for me personally as the youth pastor for our main gathering, but the longer I do it, I know the more natural it will be come. And the more natural it becomes, the more relational I will be because I’m not stressed out trying to make sure the games, music, and message go well.

        Hopefully, I’ve helped this small part of the conversation move forward!

  • http://Xposed2Jesus.com/ BrianFord

    Tim – Let me throw this one out there to marinate on. I think for many churches today our students view of missions is small. For a lot of students missions means a one day service project planned by their youth leaders or a week long trip (vacation) to another country. I not sure we’re equipping our students enough to understand that missions is an ongoing topic that takes place wherever we are and is long-term. When we discuss missions with our students I don’t use the phrase “short-term mission.” I believe this narrows their view of missions.

    • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

      That’s very true, Brian. I totally agree. Are you saying that this is a trend that’s getting worse or that’s starting to move toward a more accurate understanding of mission and missions?

      • http://Xposed2Jesus.com/ BrianFord

        I think it’s a trend. Let’s look at the way our country thinks and operates. Students today are more self-centered and have a sense of entitlement than ever before. They are living in a “what can I get out of it” world.

      • http://www.facebook.com/clint.rothell Clint Rothell

        BRIAN: The trend you speak of is probably why the new missional focus has provided a timely corrective. Instead of seeing living our life on purpose and mission as limited to a short term trip, let’s join Christ in his mission in our everyday life where we live, work, and play.

        TIM: Do you see this missional focus slowly driving us away from our recognition of the importance of sound doctrine? (This is actually my concern with “Youth Ministry 3.0″ too, even though the main emphasis there seems to be on relationships over programs if I remember right.) Not that this would be the intent, only the natural result of a new emphasis. If the emphasis is mission (service), then that puts the importance of true belief on the back burner. Is that fair? If it is, then I see a potential trend toward an anti-intellectual, light on doctrine church (or youth group). If I’m on the right track could you see Dare 2 Share’s “Deep and Wide” youth ministry philosophy as a corrective? Maybe Deep and Wide offers a way of balancing mission and doctrine? I’m just now getting into the Deep and Wide Youth Ministry Philosophy and I am really enjoying it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/clint.rothell Clint Rothell

        BRIAN: The trend you speak of is probably why the new missional focus has provided a timely corrective. Instead of seeing living our life on purpose and mission as limited to a short term trip, let’s join Christ in his mission in our everyday life where we live, work, and play.

        TIM: Do you see this missional focus slowly driving us away from our recognition of the importance of sound doctrine? (This is actually my concern with “Youth Ministry 3.0″ too, even though the main emphasis there seems to be on relationships over programs if I remember right.) Not that this would be the intent, only the natural result of a new emphasis. If the emphasis is mission (service), then that puts the importance of true belief on the back burner. Is that fair? If it is, then I see a potential trend toward an anti-intellectual, light on doctrine church (or youth group). If I’m on the right track could you see Dare 2 Share’s “Deep and Wide” youth ministry philosophy as a corrective? Maybe Deep and Wide offers a way of balancing mission and doctrine? I’m just now getting into the Deep and Wide Youth Ministry Philosophy and I am really enjoying it.

        • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

          No, I don’t see missional and doctrine being opposed to each other at all. In fact, isn’t missional theological in and of itself? I don’t interpret “missional” as just service either, though. I think it’s much bigger than that, but that’s a different discussion.

          I think you’ll like my post next week on what I wish was a trend that isn’t. Let’s save this conversation for then. :)

          • http://www.facebook.com/clint.rothell Clint Rothell

            Sounds good. Look forward to it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/christcounselor Frank Zimmerman

    I don’t have 3 trends, but I do have one that has been on my mind for quite awhile. Although I am fairly new to youth ministry, I am seeing a definite trend in our church where the youth attend infrequently and irregularly. Perhaps this is something that has always happened and it is just new to me because of my introduction into the ministry. However, I am noticing that this is something deeper than just the teen attendance. This seems to be rooted in the parents attitudes and their apathy toward youth ministry and the youth in general. At least in my church, I am finding that even the parents who attend regularly (almost religiously! gasp!), fail to hold their teens accountable to attendance and participation in youth programs. To me, this is a much bigger problem that needs to be addressed on a larger scale within the church. How do we get parents to be parents? When I was a child, I didn’t get the choice of whether or not I attended church. It was mandatory whether I liked it or not. Today the parents have become apathetic and too willing to allow the teens to make that decision on their own. So what is their motivation for coming in at all then? If it’s relationships, how can we build them if they do not attend? Outside relationship building? How can we find the time to do that with all of them?

    • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

      Yeah, that’s unfortunately common, Frank. I’m glad you see the issue as deeper than just attendance. I’m not sure it’s as much about parents forcing kids to be involved at church as much as it is about parents valuing spiritual influence in their kids lives. Personally, I don’t care if a kid comes to youth group or not if their parents are investing into them spiritually at home. But when that’s not happening at home, it’s usually because it’s not a value that they hold and thus church isn’t a big deal for them either.

      • http://www.facebook.com/christcounselor Frank Zimmerman

        I agree. But what if they are depending on YOU (youth pastor) to do ALL the spiritual feeding? In other words, you’re getting maybe a couple hours a week to feed them and then they starve the rest of the week until they come back (if they come back two weeks in a row!). In my opinion, it needs to start in the house (foundation) and then we (youth pastor) can build upon that (house). I see a lot of dysfunction in the lives of my youth and I believe they might participate more if the parents/guardians showed their support.

        • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

          Then the best you can hope to do is enable them to continue being immature Christians who don’t feel a need to take the reins of their relationship with Christ. The dysfunction perpetuates itself.

  • Fumcyouth

    3 trends:
    1.) all games. the “cool” youth group
    2.) bright and shiny programs. No relationships
    3.) cool, hip, youth minister…who’s ministry is this?

    • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

      Yeah, definitely not cool trends. Thankfully I think youth ministry in general is moving away from that.

  • http://joshrobinson.cc Josh Robinson

    Great responses so far!
    I’d say:
    -High octane, lights and fog machine. “relevant” messages with no challenge
    -The other extreme, having fun is wrong, etc
    – A balance of a healthy environment of fun and worship along with clear and biblical teaching from God’s Word.

    • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

      Glad you feel that a healthy environment is becoming a trend! Whether or not a “healthy environment” consists of fun, worship, and teaching or not is something we could discuss. I think it’s certainly typical and all those things are good, but is there something else that could make it more healthy, whatever “healthy” is?

      • http://joshrobinson.cc Josh Robinson

        students leading the ministry is one way I describe healthy. We are trying to equip them to lead, etc.
        healthy to me is a good leadership team who are building relationships with students and know what is going on in their lives.
        healthy is students becoming Christians on a regular basis
        healthy is God’s Word being taught weekly…..
        just a few

  • Anonymous

    1. I think that the divide between adults and students is going to continue to shrink.
    a. Students welcomed in main Sunday gatherings
    b. Men’s and Women’s Ministries will invite and include students in those mixes and include the children of the men and women knowing that they are becoming men and women. The older generation HAS to teach the younger.
    c. Missions will no longer be separate “youth trips” and “adult trips” but they will be integrated realizing that the 1 John 2 “Fathers (older men) KNOW God, and the young men are strong and know the word of God.” and the aspects of both groups need to be mixed for the best result.
    d. Young, talented teenagers will be integrated into adult worship teams for the purpose of training and discipleship.
    e. All of the above will be seen as student ministry and will be factored into our youth ministry calendar. We need need need students to be around their parents and safe caring adults much more than they are.

    2. As the above happens the youth pastor’s job description will change. It will be working more closely with each ministry leader as well as the position being seen focusing on being primarily as a teaching position and secondarily a programming director. The first question in a staff meeting asked to the youth pastor will no longer be, “What do you have going on this month for the students?” but it will be, “What are you teaching this month to the students?”. Student ministry will find its identity in Scripture and not in the students who comprise the group.

    3. Through the accurate preaching of God’s word, parents will be forced to realize their role in the lives of their children with the result being that youth ministries will be flooded with help. If God has given you kids, by that he is saying that you are able to handle them with his help, so a parents excuse can no longer be, “I don’t like middle schoolers.” They need to realize God has given them one and they will feel that they must infuse their life into their child’s life within the church.

    4. Like-minded churches will gather student ministries together so that students can see how “wide” the body of Christ is within their schools.

    5. Students will be seen as having the ability to be ones who makes disciples and those students are strategically trained and placed wisely working alongside adults making disciples of younger children.

    Student ministry, I feel, HAS to become less of its own entity if we are going to see God work in amazing ways in our church structures. I believe we have yet to see what God can do.

    I know their are pros and cons to each point and they can be argued around the clock, but I am seeing just a new heart and mind change in the entire church body to seeing the teenagers as just as much a part of the church as ever and it is Christ that binds them together.

    • PastorE

      I couldn’t agree more with you Brett. I think that youth ministry, although done with good intentions, have messed up since its inception in the 1950′s and continue to do so. I put forth my plan of having a family mission trip next year instead of a youth camp or youth mission trip at a staff meeting. Instead of agreeing to incorporate the families and “older people,” the pastor initiated us to go to a camp costing $450/person and chaperones are not allowed and then told me that I needed to find a church where I fit in. We have to equip the parents to be the spiritual leaders of their house. This idea of a “professional teacher” needs to stop. Even though I’m on my way out here, I’m setting up our classes studies in such a way to where they take home worksheets and work on them with their moms and dads. If some do and others don’t, doesn’t matter. I’m simply trying to start conversations in the households.

    • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

      Oh man, I think you read my notes for #1 and #2, Brett! haha

      I hope #3 happens, too, although usually that kind of shift takes place through crisis in each family’s life. Seeing it happen as a result of teaching and conviction would definitely be the easier route to go.

      I think we’re mostly in agreement about this stuff. Hopefully they become trends and not just good things that we write about on blogs, ya know?

    • http://www.facebook.com/url.studentmin Mike Ashley

      Brett how often to do you get called Bart Starr?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brett-Starr/700014746 Brett Starr

        Mike, :) it ALWAYS comes up and how i must be a Packers fan having my name be half of Brett Favre and half of Bart Starr. But in reality I cant stand the Packers and have been a Bears fan my entire life. Kind of ironic. I have said that if I ever get a dog, I should name it Ringo!!

  • http://www.youthleadersacademy.com/ Rachel Blom

    I see positive changes actually, though I don’t think we’re ‘there’ yet (however you define ‘there’). To name three:
    1. Discipleship: I see a re-focus on discipleship as core activity and I feel that’s great. We’re still struggling with how to do this exactly, but the vision is there, we just need to figure out how to do it
    2. Intergenerational ministry: As some other commenters have said, I see the church coming together and being less separated in ministries and age groups. I don’t think we should abolish youth ministry, but I’d love to see it more connected
    3. Evidence-based practices: I think the whole ‘sticky faith’ thing is an excellent example of solid research we can put into practice.
    And if I may throw in a fourth: more cooperation with parents and that’s great.

    I think program -based, activity-based youth ministry is declining…finally. I’ve been guilty of it myself and I’m actually happy with where we’re heading. Sure, I see enough issues and problems, but I’m fairly optimistic.

    • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

      Intergenerational ministry would be awesome as a trend! I think we’re definitely talking about it and some are even starting to try it out in different ways. It’s just difficult because our current structure of church is so broken up by stages of life.

  • http://www.robbiemackenzie.com/ Robbie Mackenzie

    I like Rachel’s comments about the positive aspects of Youth Ministry. I do feel like because of the broad array of denominations (even denominations within denominations) I feel like this question will be a tough one. By in large though, because of the many prophetic voices in youth ministry I feel like God is leading us closer to what church is supposed to be. now breaking that down is difficult but I look forward to your posts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/url.studentmin Mike Ashley

    I have been in student ministry for many years in several states, denominations, and congregation sizes. Some of the “trends” listed in the messages have been “trending” since the Mike Yaconelli days/ ugly logo Youth Specialties/ clip art days. In youth time that is a long time ago.

    Trends: Positive
    1. Pursuit of organic transformational relationship based on spiritual gifting; the role of small groups community in this process.
    2. Connecting the dots between belief and service, mission trips, service projects, and awareness for marginal peoples. It is a more holistic/ synthetic in its approach.
    3. Inclusion of parents in the life of the student ministry. Student ministry is a spiritual supplement to what is/ should be going on at home.
    Neutral Trend:
    - The value of perception of truth over the facts of truth. I don’t know where that is going to go, but it is a double edged sword, especially in historiography, theology, and politics.

    Trends: Negative
    1. Lack of discernment when processing trends, theological positions, and ministry philosophies. For some reason student ministry people are attracted to trending theology, orthodox or not…boo:(
    2. Integration/ inclusion of students into the church body as co-heirs.
    3. Lack of leadership recruiting responsible passionate leaders or the lack of desire to train graduating seniors or recent graduates to become responsible passionate leaders.

    - I think a great youth ministry trend would be a youth ministry that reflects and represents the values of the whole church. That means we, student pastors, have to be selective and honest about our own values before we agree to work at a church. That is called integrity…another cool trend.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sean.mansheim Sean Michael Mansheim

      I really like your response, Mike, but how do I do that in a church community completely void of youth? One where I’m going into a community almost acting as a parachurch youth ministry, still under my church but reaching out to students that are unchurched or, as more often is the case, members of another church that doesn’t have a youth ministry or has a youth ministry that they don’t like?
      That’s been one of my biggest challenging thought processes as I’ve been launching the youth ministry at my church.

      • http://www.facebook.com/url.studentmin Mike Ashley

        Great point Sean. I have been there before. It is extremely taxing and difficult to get “something” going at a church that is in its infant or twilight years.

        I did leave off a trend that I have seen work. I will summarize the trend and embed a response in 3 options/ chose your own adventure listed below.

        Option 1.
        Local experienced youth worker with a good sized group (60+?) partners with you. He/ she trains you and gives you experience leading your group among his students and volunteers. The two ministries essentially become one ministry for a season. After a specified time you split off with the students that attend your church/ live close to your church and launch a ministry with a core group of students that may include some students from the other church.

        Option 2.
        Several smaller churches come together to host one larger group. Christian Youth Center in Joliet is doing this brilliantly (http://www.thecyc.org). A larger group can minister to one another and create momentum that is very tough to do with a few students. Plus, non-believers can be ministered to and evangelized by their peers and other leaders. It detracts from the “cult of personality” issue that has plagued churches forever.

        Option 3…
        It would be great to have a hybrid of the two above options. A larger ministry essentially does a youth ministry plant with a smaller ministry. The smaller ministry recruits other smaller ministries to join on. The larger ministry trains and mentors the smaller groups leadership. Sounds cool, I have never seen it done.

        Tension:
        The tension with any of these options is that every church feels it should have a student ministry even if it does not have students. The burden for “growing” the student ministry is transferred to the student ministry/ pastor. This is not fair especially when the type of people who take positions in small churches with few youth are newer youth ministry types. Again, I have been there. The real burden is for church leadership to acknowledge they are not growing in a demographic that attracts families with teenagers or older elementary aged students. Then the church, as a whole, can rally around getting families to attend.

        Convincing leadership to be mission minded and a little bit ecumenical is tough, but like the case for CYC is possible and it is cool when it happens.

        My Experience:
        I was at a church leadership that flat out refused to grow and attract young families and families with teenagers. I beat my head against the wall trying to get them to see that and to get my (8 or so) students to invite friends. Eventually, and sadly, I gave up on these two options. I began training young leaders. I also began hanging out at the local high school handing out hot dogs at football games and cheeseburgers during lunch. I would use the opportunity to invite students. I also taught a class at the middle school. Finally, I hosted video game tournaments or whatever would get students in the door to preach the Gospel and invite them to hangout during our weekly event.

        After all of this I was asked by a couple elders why the students (about 30 or so) were not attending church. It was then that I realized I had created a parachurch ministry. It was cool and tough. To do it over again I would not have taken the job there, but if I did I would have done option number 2.

        I hear ya:
        I do hear the “not having youth” or the “I don’t like our youth ministry” thing. It can be frustrating and seem fruitless however sometimes it takes years before we see how much impact we had with our students. Hang in there:)

        Hope that helps…a little.
        Mike

    • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

      Good stuff, Mike! I’m curious what you mean by “integration/inclusion of students into the church body as co-heirs” as a negative thing, especially what you mean by “co-heirs.”

      And to your point about youth ministry needing to reflect the vision of the church, totally agree! You’re right about us as youth workers needing to know our own values first, but I think it also requires that the church actually have a vision and know where they’re going as well. And not just something written on a letterhead: something that directs and influences every decision they make.

      • http://www.facebook.com/url.studentmin Mike Ashley

        Bad communication on my part….by negative trend I meant the lack of integration into the church. Our church does a good job a values because we have great leadership. Our leadership measures and sets standards based off of our values. This is a pretty cool place:)

  • Anonymous

    There are more and more ministries (both adult and youth) falling victim year after year as they continue down the path doing and being what our fore fathers have done before us. That is a pretty bold statement; as I move forward from there let me tread carefully. To focus more strictly on youth ministry we have allowed our ministries to focus on the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) as their foundations. Traditional training in youth ministry is focused on developing missions and visions based on what we have already accomplished rather than stretching into and beyond the barriers of history. The action of church leaders signifies the innate desire to remain consistent and aligned to past victories. The more vibrant youth ministries today are the one not just renovating the youth rooms but the ones who are reaching into the deep darkness that covers an entire generation. We need to break away from a reduce, reuse, recycle mentality without moving away from a bible based theology of youth ministry. If we were to embrace a model that was designed to release the core created identity of God in individuals this lost generation would have a church that meets, heals and alters the very fabric of the Church.

  • Anonymous

    I see a lot of people starting to wrestle with the absence of 18-30 year old’s from church and rethinking youth ministry programming to account for that. I think the reaction will eventually result in changes to children/youth programs (perhaps along the suggestions that the Sticky Faith study suggests).

    I also think more young adult focused ministry will appear. Some of those will (unfortunately) probably be like a youth group for older students while others will work toward integration with adults in the church, mentoring, walking alongside emerging adults as they transition into adulthood.

  • http://www.benjermcveigh.com/ Benjer McVeigh

    Love the conversation so far…this is actually an amazing discussion that I wish would occur across the board in youth ministry. I wish there were more YM folks “on the ground” having this conversation (i.e. in their churches, YM networks, etc.).

    One positive trend I am seeing: seeing youth ministry as one part of the broader Church, and not its own parallel track. I see this on the local level, as well as in curriculum, various YM journals, and especially in YM blogs. I think a lot of youth pastors/directors in the past really didn’t care much about what was happening in their local church as long as they could run the youth ministry the way the wanted. I am hearing/seeing a lot of push back against that, which is good.

    One negative trend: I’ve only been in YM for 12 years, but I feel like there’s not a lot of chatter and passion about reaching students who don’t yet know Jesus. Not sure if that’s across the board or just a feeling I get, but to me, YM in the 20th century came about because many churches on their own weren’t doing enough to reach teenagers. I feel like we’ve lost that.

    One trend I’d LIKE to see: youth workers (I’m thinking youth pastors, youth directors, etc.) be seen as church leaders who focus on teenagers and their families, rather than just “youth guys” (or “youth gals”). What I mean by that is it would be better for a youth pastor to be hired because he or she is a qualified pastor who happens to have a passion/calling to work with teenagers, rather than a youth guy that we made a pastor because he or she happens to be good with teenagers and majored in YM in college.

  • http://peripatew.com Luke McFadden

    Trends:
    Relationships > programs (Marko and Root)
    The Word > curriculum (The Story and Community Bible Experience)
    Parents > Youth Pastor (Sticky Faith, Jim Burns, Voddie Baucham)
    Local Community > Individual Church (Networks and multi-church stuff)

    Negative:
    Lack of connection throughout the week and month. I’ve got kids from 8 different schools, in a town of 250K. They’re schedules are getting crazier, and their commitment to a “youth ministry” is taking a back seat (Adam Mclane posted about this recently)

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.jeffers.ym Steven Jeffers

    One trend I see is the very much watering down of Scripture as well as neglecting the context of Scripture during youth events and such. A lot of my students absolutely love using The Message because it is in language they can understand. The Message has its uses and is a good tool at times. However, like many of the newer, contemporary editions of the Bible, the real messages and meanings are lost. How can our students’ journeys with God deepen when they are not challenged and we as youth pastors let it slide because we say to ourselves “hey, at least they can understand it.” I am big on the original edition, the Authorized Bible aka the KJV, but I am not saying we use that. I believe we should return to the editions of the Bible that our respective denominations deem acceptable and really not only challenge our students to grasp the mystery that is God but challenge ourselves as well.

  • Emmasdad

    One trend I would like to see is a return to scripture. I knkow we all use the bible in our ministries, but what i am sseeing too much of today is it is being used as a reference tool. Verses are picked out to reinforce a point or idea, but we are giving up the context. I remember a statement from about 20 years ago at a National Youth Workers Convention. It was regarding curriculum vs. the bible. The statement was,”We currently use curriculum as our teaching base and the bible as a reference tool. We ned to reverse that and use the bible as our teaching base, and the curriculum as a reference tool. When I started to incorporate that, I found that it completly changed my perspective on teaching and curriculum. It takes more work, but the lessons seem to have much more power.
    A trend I would like to see change is the idea that our music/singing, time always needs to be deeply spiritual. So many times I see “worship: bands focused in their own worship experience, but they forget that there are others in the room. Some are participating, but many are standing there bored, or talking, or just wondering where the nearest exit it. I have observed this in retreat, church, and conference settings. One example comes from one of the hymns that has reemerged as a praise song. I love this idea, because i love hymns, but we have to be careful what we are saying, or not sayin. During “Come Thou Found” in the second verse we sing “here i raise my ebenezer.” I asked my youth, whats adn ebenezer? None of them knew. I asked the worship team the same question. Same response. We have to be more aware of what we are doing in this area as it is one of the MOST powerful tools we have for impacting students. Sipritual depth is neede but we cannot forget that even the most spiritually mature teenager wants to have fun too.

    • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

      Yeah, I agree with how we use scripture. It feels to me that we start with “what the kids are going through” and then say, “Let’s see what the Bible has to say about that.” We start with their lives and then try to apply God’s Word to it when really we should start with God’s Word as the foundation and help students apply their lives to that! Otherwise they learn that “the Bible is here to help address my needs and tell me what not to do.”

  • http://twitter.com/Thayouthdude10 Brett

    I’ve been at my church for almost 8 yrs and have seen a serious reversal in my students. I’m seeing parents less involved which lead to students to being less involved. It’s hard to get a commitment from them and their parents don’t view the things we have going on as important.

    I’ve heard a lot of “specialists” talk but they mainly talk about how they are thriving and what they are doing. Yet, they seem to have huge groups with and an unlimited budget. I’d like to hear what Student Pastors, that are struggling and trying to push through, are doing to stay encouraged and successful.

    I believe parents are a vital part in student ministries and if parent’s are encouraging their students to interact and engage in the body of Christ then the students aren’t going to make it important. I’ve seen this as a slow process.

    I’ve also noticed a general apathy about their faith. An unwillingness to step out of their comfort zone. I’ve given up on the do it big and they will come, even focusing on a more relationship style ministry. I encourage, i’m feeding scripture, i’m taking them out for one on one meals and they see what they are doing but nothing seems to change.

  • http://craigstumpf.blogspot.com/ Craig Stumpf

    Simple – teens still need our time and heart – old trend, but still good…

    I came to your blog from the church relevant site top 200 list. They have created a tremendous forum for finding new blogs that impact people.

    I hope my blog can be an encouragement to you also.

    I write it for encouragement and motivation daily.

    http://i-never-fail.blogspot.com

    Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to watching the connections grow!

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