Since Mark Oestreicher called attention to my post entitled “A crisis in youth ministry,” I’ve been convicted that I need to not just yell at the darkness, but light a few candles.
Honestly, I’m perplexed by this question, “How can youth pastors ever hope to disciple their young people given the logistical and political constraints they face?”
Logistical Constraints: Students don’t have time and are scattered all over the place in multiple schools.
Political Constraints: Youth ministers are hired by senior pastors to run a program. They answer to the pastor, to the parents, and depending on how empowered they are, to the students themselves. Contrast this with Jesus who was with his disciples 24-7 and if you didn’t like him, he’d tell you something real encouraging like, “let the dead bury their dead.”
There are few examples where they’ve made a real institutional effort to surmount these constraints, but here is one. If you wanted to replicate this, the agency I’m with would be happy to help you. We’ve got bases around the world devoted to discipling thru missions.
This Atlanta area church goes to Peru for 6 weeks and couples it with a pretty good discipleship program during the year for their young people. I haven’t taken the time to really study their model, but if you’re a disatisfied youth pastor, you should study their discipleship model and copy it. It’s the best stuff I’ve seen. If someone would go to the trouble of interviewing their staff and share the results with me, I’ll post ’em here.
Our own one-year discipleship program called First Year Missions does it better than anything else I’ve seen – we really try to replicate Jesus’ model – but you’ve got to convince parents that taking a year to focus on discipleship is worth skipping a year of college.