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The future of youth ministry

Over on Whyismarko, Mark Oestreicher asked me the question, “What is the future of youth ministry?” Basically he wanted a few predictions for 20 years from now. Here’s what I said: 20 years from now, youth ministry in the US will look like youth ministry in Europe. A few youth minis…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Over on Whyismarko, Mark Oestreicher asked me the question, “What is the future of youth ministry?” Basically he wanted a few predictions for 20 years from now. Here’s what I said:
  • 20 years from now, youth ministry in the US will look like youth ministry in Europe.
  • A few youth ministers will rediscover Jesus’ model of youth ministry and actually try it out (with 20-somethings).
  • The gap year experience will become an increasingly powerful tool in the youth minister’s toolbox.
Your thoughts?

Comments (5)

  • I know what “gap year” is.

    can you explain the Jesus’ model of youth ministry & youth ministry in Europe.

    sorry I’m a little behind the learning cure on these 2 concepts

  • Jesus model of youth ministry and the European model are very similar because of the small group/number of those involved. For Jesus it was how he instructed the disciples. It was about experience, letting them experience, and therebye grow in their relationship with God. Because the European church has shrunk this kind of thing is happening over there. Whereas here in the U.S…Bigger is Better!!!

    After checking out Whyismarko, by Mark Oestreicher, I was left to think about this (I haven’t forgotten about those questions, Seth!) I realized that #1, I will take this a step further and say I don’t see this as where we will be in twenty years, but where we need to start going right now. Granted my ideas for youth ministry came more from current educational research, and my experience in grad school, coupled with my own personal restoration in progress.

    Youth today learn better in small groups, where individual attention can be given, and questions can be answered of all. I think this is a big reason for only 12 disciples, Jesus needed them to understand by the end, and he needed the quality time to get them there. I agree with this concept, but take it a step further for today, by saying small group, and adult involvement are essential, but this model should also be driven by the youth. Youth leaders, leading other youth, and confronting youth problems, questions, and doubts. After you get them to have a personal relationship, you send them out into the world, just as Christ did. Experience will help cement belief. When youth see the Spirit work within them, they will truly feel the glory of God.

    This is, of course, a restoring vision, and one I hope for. If 8 of 10 youth are leaving by age 20, then we must get this other model into practice soon!

  • Seth,

    That is awesome, brother! And it gives me more to contemplate, as I move forward. I’ve been thinking small group from a contemporary transformational leadership model, but it stands to reason, and make sense that Christ was the ultimate transformative leaders, and so, of course, He did it best, and He did it first. Thanks for the wisdom!

    Peace.

  • Wouldn’t it be cool if initiatives like AIM take root in lives (the AIM participants of today are the parents of tomorrow’s youth) and the ‘missional’ perspective infects enough hearts and minds, such that ‘youth ministry’ becomes an anachronism? That is, in 20 years teens, their parents and the churches of which they’re part might be sufficiently dialed in to an organic view of life and ministry that programs which slice out particular groups (like ‘youth’) may not exist per se because there is the strong sense that discipleship happens ‘along the way’, rather than because of programming.
    That said, there’s also likely to be a fairly large group of people who have grown indifferent to church and what it is offering & attempting, such that youth ministry becomes an important part of reaching, equipping and mobilizing a generation of people who will live out the realities of grace, peace and love. Seems possible that in another twenty years, young people will–again–bring the sort of ‘refreshing’ the church needs, given how quickly we slip back into bad habits and easy ways.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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