This is part seven (of seven) of a blog series discussing the differences between focusing a youth ministry on developmental issues versus focusing on cultural issues. [If you are just joining, I recommend going back to the beginning.]
Last post I proposed a way forward that intentionally combines the focus on both development and all the levels of culture. This focus allows for ministry to happen at the deepest level of development. In this model it is possible to step into a truly relational ministry that honors the individual as person.
For the purpose of drawing out the logical conclusions and manifestations of each approach to youth ministry I have separated the two approaches. I recognize that most ministries do incorporate parts of both development and culture. By separating them out as I have here in this series, I have attempted to demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. In this way I hope to have clarified my points in ways that would have been otherwise difficult.
I want to conclude this series with hope. I am incredibly hopeful about the future of youth ministry. There are many places where churches seem to be “getting it” and are engaging youth at the heart level of ministry, caring for them as people, not projects, and engaging youth in ministry. Many of these places may not articulate their focus in the ways I have attempted to here, but they are doing it. God is moving in the lives of young people, calling them forward into an active relationship with the living Christ, gifting them for mission and dreaming in them Kingdom dreams. Thank you who are involved in youth ministry for being a part of that. Thank you for being faithful in pointing youth towards the living Christ. You matter and what you do matters.
Here are a few questions that might be helpful as you and your team wrestle with some of these issues:
1) How has our youth ministry tended to emphasize development or culture?
2) What have been the strengths and weaknesses of our approaches?
3) Where have we not focused enough on the adolescent development issues? Where have we not focused enough on the cultural issues?
4) What are some ways that we as a team can work to understand culture at all three levels – macro, local and micro?
5) How do we engage youth in ministry right now? And to what level are we doing ministry for and to youth?
6) What are the next steps we might begin to take to engage youth in ministry? (for example, how might we begin to listen to youth?)
7) Since one youth pastor/director cannot possibly know every young person at the micro level of culture where significance, meaning and capability are best realized, how can we engage more of the congregation in relational ministry?
8) Has our focus been on the “youth team” doing the ministry or has our focus been on making sure that ministry with youth is being done?
I hope that this series has been helpful in thinking about youth ministry. Any feedback or questions would be very appreciated as I am learning as I go as well.