Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Youth Ministry in 50 years

Marko posted yesterday about what youth ministry might look like in 50 years, along with this link to an article from CT. Interesting question that I have been pondering for a little while. I thought I would throw my opinion out there - feel free to comment. Also, I haven't read the article yet but will as soon as I post this. I thought it would be more fun to come up with my ideas before I read it.

"Tell me what will be different about youth ministry in 50 years."

1. Your student ministry is no longer pale
You think the world is flat now.... Our student ministries will be full of a mixture of students from all kinds of backgrounds. The global and urban migration will extend into student ministries mixing ministries full of bi-, tri- and multi-racial students who bring all kinds of cultural, emotional and family issues and experience. Third culture kids [who have lived all over the world and in different cultures] will be a larger percentage of the kids we minister to.
The average youthworker will be interested in different cultures, have a vast view of the world and love to eat Sweet and Sour Pork, Tandoori Chicken and rice and beans. Our suburban churches become mixing bowls of world cultures all coming together for the mission of Jesus. The average youthworker will probably not be Caucasian.

2. Serious About Contextualization
Speaking of culture, our student ministries will have a new focus on the idea of engaging culture. Not in the present sense of 'culture war' - not fighting Hollywood, public schools or DisneyWorld.
Instead, our students ministries will be fleshing out the idea of contextualization - how do we engage the culture we live in and the culture our students come from. Ethnocentrism will no longer be tolerated - thinking your culture is the best is not going to get you very far in building relationships and impacting students.

There will be new elements of engaging worship from a student perspective [rebellious, loud, edgy] as well as the cultures that they were brought up in [African, Asian, etc.] Prepare for a cool mix of worship music that is born from adolescents but mixes world music, beats and instruments.

3. Bigger Freaks
Churches will be in decline and the society at large will continue to be cautious of religious extremism. Being an evangelical will be even less tolerated. Students sold out to Jesus are seen as even bigger freaks. The threat of terrorism around the world will continue to shake us - mission teams will have even more to think and plan regarding that threat. People that are serious about following Jesus stick around. The ones that are not serious leave fast. There is an even higher calling of commitment.

4. Creativity and Imagination
Creativity and imagination in student ministries shape a new level of engagement with students. Ministries we have not even dreamed of yet are created and implemented by and for students. Youthworkes are amazed at how vast their students imagaintions are.

5. Precision Missions
Short term missions is going to continue to explode - but it is going to be framed with more precision and strategy - in good ways. Local churches are going to hone this vision and step up to require student missions have a good context and synergy. Many more students are going to understand typically missiologist terms like people group, syncretism and conextualization - and are going to have hands on experience with those concepts.

5. Your present students are going to mold this vision.
And the best one I think - the students you are working with now are going to shape and mold this vision. They are the ones that will build relationships, in the future, with students you haven't even met yet that will be the youthworkers in 50 years. The creative, the committed, the one that brings the African drum to worship on Sunday, the ones that love Tandoori chicken.
Looking at your middle schooler of today and scared about the future ministry they will invest in? Nah - instead, be energized and excited. She will come around, with your patient encouragement, clarity and prayers. The time you invest in her, your modeling and when you both see a life impacted - it will all make a difference in her life. And really, when it comes right down to it, the future of youth ministry needs her.

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