Responding to the needs of youth


Ministry and mission with young people at this time is a massive challenge for the Church (widely and locally) and no one group are to blame for the societal and generational shifts which have happened…but we are struggling to respond in way too many places…

If I generalise to make a point, there are TOO MANY congregations/communities of faith WHERE:

Youth ministry is focused on preparing young people to run church as we know it, into the future

Youth ministry is about the fear of who we are without young people in our midst (with little or no willingness to make changes)

The primary or single measure of youth ministry effectiveness is ‘church engagement’

The focus of discipleship is information imparted through ‘the curriculum’ or content in a jug and mug style

The desire to connect with young people is not authentic

A narrow view of the gospel creates a barrier to the future

The horizon or our interest or care are our own children or those ‘we already have’ in our congregation

We have outsourced all the above to ‘paid youth leaders’ who do the youth ministry with little or no involvement from us

The culture/s and contexts or young people is so distant and foreign to church culture that we cannot meet this challenge without a completely different ‘tack’…yet the biggest issue is we don’t listen to those who have a clue, because that would run counter to much of the above…and the hard work would just be starting…but that’s in those places of course…

“The gospel always comes to people in cultural robes. There is no such thing as a ‘pure’ gospel, isolated from culture”– (David J. Bosch. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. 1991:297)

“Just as one could not speak of the church without speaking of its mission, it was impossible to think of the church without thinking, in
the same breath, of the world to which it is sent. (Bosch. Transforming Mission. 1991:377)

Some things to consider:

Most young people are part of a visual narrative culture

Most young people live in the world of juxtaposition or where they can make meaning or hold beliefs in things that conflict or don’t normally go alongside each other

Many young people connect with things with which they have an affinity, in which they find authentic connection or through social justice action

Most young people are capable of exploring spirituality and making meaning for themselves

All young people are NOT the same

Unshockable, mentor ready, energetic adults without agendas are like ‘gold’

Youth ministry is hard