Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Notes - The State of Youth Ministry, The Barna Group

This is a great little booklet that contains the findings of three nationwide studies among youth pastors, senior pastors and parents of teens through research commissioned by Youth Specialties and YouthWorks, both pillars of student ministry through the ages. Lots of good stuff in here, although the report is a little pricey. If you are a youth pastor or a senior pastor, you should get a copy. If you are local, and in full time student ministry, come borrow mine.
Discipleship is not as important to youth ministers in urban churches as it is to those in small towns or the suburbs. [Additionally, the report talks about the idea that the term discipleship may not mean the same thing to everyone, which is also an issue. But at the core, we are to be making disciples...]

White and high-income parents are more likely than others to say "talking about sexuality and dating" is a major expectation, while lower income parents are inclined to say they expect youth pastors to help their teen navigate family relationships and warn them about drugs and alcohol.

When youth pastors consider major challenges to the effectiveness of their programs, three-quarters agree that teen's busyness tops the list. No other potential obstacle comes close. Yet parents do not agree. Only one out of nine US Parents say their child is "way too busy." About six in 10 say the balance of activities "is good" and three in 10 say their teen "needs more to do."

The typical youth group:
12 adult volunteers, 5 of whom are parents of teens in the youth group
60 teens
1.4 paid youth ministry staff

62% of parents would at least consider moving to a new church for a good youth program

According to their parents, a majority of teens (65%) are fairly active when it comes to volunteering at least once every few months [the lazy teen is a myth that needs to be broken.]

Primary ways teens engage in service through their church:
55% days of service at their church
49% days of service in their town
44% a service commitment on a regular basis
35% service at a destination that could be reached in a day's drive
19% service at a destination in the US that is farther than a day's drive
10% a mission trip outside the US
[PS - Ember exists to help with all of this.]

Barna's future youth ministry challenges:
1. Rising Bible skepticism
2. Increasing loneliness
3. Pervasive pornography
4. Confusion regarding human sexuality
5. Me-first morality
6. Pressurized Christian identity
7. An era defined by achievement [I'm glad they identified this one]
8. Conversation-challenged disciples

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