I apologize for the way my mind thinks.

Nonetheless, it occurred to me how youth ministry has evolved over the years in its tone and topics.

What once seemed as innocent and fun as getting kids together…

eventually had a high point where we were all living a crazy season full of adrenaline…

then we became involved with something much more conversational, with topics we never imagined would ever come up with any type of regularity.

Speaking of Ricky Martin…

whatever happened to him?

I mean, he is still around… or has his time passed?

(Yikes, I hope we don’t have that in common, too. Again, apologies for the way my mind thinks.)

What do you think the future of youth ministry looks like?

 

I remember a time when I didn’t have an email address, when I had a friend in high school who had Napster and in a good evening where no one picked up the phone  and cut the connection we could download 3 songs and couldn’t believe how fast it was. I remember a time before Facebook and Google and I don’t know if I liked it better but it was definitely different. Working with students today, they have never known a world without the internet, never learned the beauty of using a library card catalog to find a book or fumbled with a microfiche reader. There are so many redeeming and exciting things about the world that we live in now, but I am starting to think that there are some unfortunate side effects that will cause some new challenges that we need to know how to take on.

Case and point: Conflict

In the past few weeks I have had some tough conversations with several students about their life and the road it was leading them down and talked to others about pride, attitude and spiritual arrogance. In both cases ;as kindly and gracefully as I could tell them, neither have not been back to the group since our conversation. I have reached out, called, messaged and apologized for the way the conversation made them feel. As it says in Galatians 4:16 Have I become their enemy for telling them the truth? There seems to be a growing trend for students to not know how to engage with people they disagree with and would rather avoid the conflict and part of the root of this I feel is coming from the fact that:

Students don’t have to put up with anything they don’t like.

Whether its music, TV, or conversations, young people today have the world at their finger tips. If they don’t like the song, they have thousands available to them in seconds. Gone are the days of waiting for the song on the radio to finish or turning it down. Today they don’t have to put up with anyone else’s music because they can bring their own. Have you driven past a school bus of students recently? Its white ear buds from front to back. No more 99 bottles of beer on that wall. They have hundreds of TV channels plus DVRs, Youtube, Hulu, Netflix means that they never really have to watch anything that they don’t have to. Entertainment is on demand so why should people not be the same?

So logically the same expectations of instantly getting what they want enters the realm of relationships. They know what they want, and they know what they don’t. With hundreds of friends on Facebook, the moment that a relationship is not what they want anymore they switch and go find one they better. Sadly this is exactly what is happening when students experience conflict. The modern conveniences of our culture are teaching our students that compromise is not necessary or important. Teenagers can block anyone from my newsfeed whom they disagree with or don’t like. With phone in hand, the moment an event gets remotely boring or uncomfortable they reach for the phone to find something or someone better or at least less awkward than what is in front of them. They can find engaging community online with every area of interest in their life. Friends who they share common interests and  with are only a text or app away, so why would they talk to someone who might not share their thoughts / opinions? That just seems like work.

This is the challenge we are going to engage in, how do we teach students the value of healthy conflict and that you can be friends with people you don’t always agree with?  How can we go make disciples if we are unwilling to engage those whose opinions differ from ours.

In the next 2 weeks I am going to be writing a 6 part series on things we need to teach our students with our lives before we preach to them. I pray is helpful and encouraging to you. Working with students is never easy and this new generation that wants things their way or no way at all is going to be even harder to reach.

-Geoff – Twitter geoffcstewart 



The future of youth ministry sure is a topic that has been getting some play for a while. And while that is very interesting to me, I thought it might be interesting to think about what we know is going to happen to the whole church in a few years:

The students in your ministry will be the parents in your church in 10 years

The students you are counseling, nudging and caring for are the parents in your church in a few years. These kids will be having kids (if you’ve been in youth ministry a while, it is a disconcerting feeling to say the least) and they will be the parents.

So? Teach them well. Step in as a role-model in single parent homes. Nudge students to honor and love their parents a little more this week. Help them realize that in the not-so-distant future they’ll be the mom and dad their teen is frustrated with. Oh, and help them stay pure in the meantime so parenthood doesn’t happen earlier than it should.

The students in your ministry will be the missionaries of the world in 12 years

The students who are on your Spring Break trip or with you in Costa Rica this summer are going to be the missionaries of the future. They are the ones to take the Gospel to the last people groups who haven’t heard and translate the Bible into the final most obscure languages.

If that’s true … Get as many of your students to experience missions as possible. Model servanthood to them. Fight for more scholarship money to get kids on these trips. Don’t hold back when it is time to push them.

The students in your ministry will run the church in 15 years

The students you are mentoring, discipling and reaching for Jesus right now are going to be the elders, deacons and pastors of the church. They are going to be making game-changing decisions about the standards of the church and the interpretation of the Bible. They are going to be hit with a myriad of huge decisions (our generation wrestled with but will largely leave to them).

My point? Disciple your students well. Make sure they are grounded in the Word. Make apologetics a priority. Give away leadership to them now so they have some experience when the church is given to them. So what is the future of the church? Look no further than your own youth ministry to see it today.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

There’s been quite a bit of talk this past year about youth ministry changing drastically in the future. And while I think youth ministry must always be in a state of evolution and change, my mind wandered to what isn’t going to change anytime soon. If you spend your time on these 4 things, you’ll be ready for wherever God takes you next:

Caring adult leaders
Great volunteers have been a part of youth ministry for a long time – and they will continue to be in the future. These are the inner circle of leadership for your youth ministry. They are your partners, friends, and co-laborers in the faith. Youth ministry will change, but the need for people who love God and love students won’t.

1-on-1 time with students
At the heart of youth ministry must always be the individual student. Even large crowd program and events must continually pursue the one. The church growth movement can be mistakenly representing the desire for the crowd – but good youth ministry does both. Speak to the crowds, care for the individual.

Bible-based curriculum and teaching
Styles will come and go, sizes of groups and formats will fade, but one thing is going to be at the center no matter what philosophy you’re implementing. The Bible has been and must be at the center of youth ministry.

A devoted follower of Jesus leading the group
This is the must – and the New Year is the perfect time to start reversing the trend revealed in this startling poll a few weeks ago. You can talk about leadership, experiment with the latest and greatest gadgets, tools, core values and even have a great youth ministry blog – but if you’re not in love with Jesus and devoted to Him regularly it will eventually implode.

What else isn’t going to be changing soon in youth ministry?

JG