I’m reading 4 books with Aaron Swank this fall as we are looking at a complete re-tooling of The Grove’s ministry to middle and high school students. The first one is Youth Ministry 3.0, by Mark Oestreicher. The book puts itself out there as a manifesto of where we’ve been, where we are and where we need to go. The fun part of this book is that I am quoted in it! MarkO put ideas into blog posts and invited interaction that he would sift through to use as sidebars in the book – a few of which come from me!
The book takes a look at the modern origins of youth ministry, the invention of the teenager, the growth and development of church based youth ministry and, later, the professionalization of youth ministry. It then asks the question – what is happening culturally in western teenagers today and how must youth ministry respond?
Here’s some helpful material:
- p.11, from Kenda Creasy-Dean’s foreword, Marko “names the elephant in the room of youth ministry: ‘The way we’re doing things is already not working. We are failing at our calling. And deep down, most of us know it.'”\
- This Wendy’s commercial is referred to, as a visual metaphor of what seems to be happening in youth ministry in the western world:
- p.29, “adolescence has been, and still is, a cultural phenomenon.”
- p.58, “Youth workers clamored to develop youth-y churches-within-churches that were loosely attached to, but functionally separate (and autonomous) from, the church that housed and funded them.”
- P.63, Another useful youtube is referred to, to describe how we need to learn to look at problems in new ways in order to find fresh descriptions and, eventually, fresh solutions:
- p.72, “Once again, like good missionaries youth workers need to become contextual specialists. Party planners, programming experts, youth preaching obsessors, growth and measurement gurus, and lowest common denominator systemizers are no longer needed. What’s needed are cultural anthropologists with relational passion.”
- p.107, on church youth ministries that are fully separate from the church ministry: “Isolated youth groups have done just as much hard as good. Isolation might make things easier in some ways, but striving for the best is rarely easy.”