By Ken Moser | October 19, 2011
There is a change underfoot. Can you feel it? People are waking up and realizing that some aspects to youth ministry that have been held so dear for so long are…well, they’re just not working anymore.
You can read this in the new group of youth ministry books coming out of America (i.e. in Mark Ostreicher’s book, “Youth Ministry 3.0” he quotes Kendra Creasy Dean as saying, “The way we’re doing things is already not working. We are failing at our calling. And deep down, most of us know it”). Mark DeVries has blogged that it may be time to “rethink the funnel” as it “could be dead” as a viable strategy for evangelism (http://ymarchitects.com/3251/is-the-funnel-dead/).
Yep, the times are a changing. The trouble is, well there are two issues:
1. The things we want to change (or even remove) are in the very DNA of our youth ministries. Most of us just can’t imagine a youth ministry that is not committed to attraction through entertainment. Nor can we imagine a youth program without games or social activities as integral to the weekly meeting.
2.What do we replace it with? Many of us have not been taught how to reach youth in any way other than to show them a good time with a gospel message thrown in somewhere. Nor do we know how to fill a two-hour program with solid, spiritual content that is also enjoyable to all.
Isn’t the solution to “things just aren’t working anymore” simply to go back to what was working…way back to the early church and what we are told to do in the Scriptures? Let’s take a look at Acts (i.e. 2:42-47) and see if we can create a ‘youth version’.
In addition, we need to learn how to create an environment where we have community, engage in fruitful spiritual disciplines while having an enjoyable time together. We mustn’t hark back to the funnel (or baseball diamond or wedding cake—whatever diagram you use) where we have a split between fun and serious. For example, how can we run a Bible study for grade 7 & 8 boys that is solid in content, highly interactive and enjoyable at the same time? This is the type of question we need to answer.
How about these two ideas:
1. Spend a day or a few nights with your leadership team (if you have one) brainstorming over this question, “How can we make our Christian stuff fun and our fun stuff Christian”?
2. Think through some of the activities that you have been so committed to in the past—is there any way of beefing them up a bit with better content? In other words, can you morph these activities into something slightly more profitable than simply entertainment?
Final words, change is underfoot in youth ministry, you simply can’t avoid this fact. And it is a good thing!