Concerns about the Future of Youth Ministry
There seems to be a growing undercurrent in the church that the Profession of Youth Ministry has either 1) Never been useful or 2) is the cause of why youth bail the church after they graduate high School. Groups, particularly this one, are advocating for the abolishment of youth ministry based on the premise that it is a 50 year failed experiment. While, I’ve covered reasons why I think this movement is not what it’s cracked up to be. I think there are several valid concerns about the current state and future of youth ministry:
Youth Ministers are Fakers
Josh Griffin made some excellent points on his blog: By the survey that he took, and general observations we are not substantial in our walk with God. Without that walk, we cannot pour into others, because we are not attached to the vine. When we lose touch with our faith and our walk, we lose our right to be called Pastors and have no right attempting to lead youth. I’m not talking about when we get burnt and lose touch with our heart and passion, but when we neglect our spiritual discipline, how dare we engage in ministry proclaiming the same.
Youth Ministers are UNprofessional
We often do things that would make us notorious in any other place of business. I’m not talking about covering a student with shaving cream and having the rest of the students take it off with supersoakers. I’m talking about poorly communicating with our colleagues and parents. Not taking ownership when something breaks. Not having a vision that can be clearly articulated by your own leadership team. Not having details of an event more than a week in advance (Schools pass out a yearly calendar, why can’t we?). Instead of being all things to all people, we try to be BFF’s with our students and come across as juvenile to the staff and congregation of the churches we serve. It’s not that we’re getting caught offguard by the occassional snafu… most of us admit WE CAN DO BETTER.
Youth Ministers are segregationists
We seem to build our bastions between 6-12th grade and seek to keep to ourselves inside our circles. I’m not sure how much we are pushed back from the outside, but rather than feeding into family friendly/intergenerational ministry we seek to create youth only mission trips, retreats, worship experiences, etc. Perhaps its true that the youth desert the church because they have so little engagement with the church body while they spend the last 7 years of their child/youth ministry careers. (I think the other part is that college kids are transient and they don’t know how to ‘latch on’ to a different church where they end up. WE NEED TO BE MORE FAMILY BASED AND ENGAGE IN OUR COMMUNITY!
I don’t think Youth Ministry is beyond repair…
Youth Ministry needs to go back to its roots: We need to become Jesus-Centered. We need to be more professional and accountable. I strongly believe we need to be in mentoring relationships with youth ministers who are more and less experienced than we are. Being in peer mentoring relationship such as the National Network of Youth Ministry will build our profession and expertise. We need to engage in intentional soul care to guard our hearts and help us remain engaged and growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ.