I recently read an abbreviated version of Youth Ministry 3.0 entitled “Marko’s manifesto for the next generation”. It was published in Youth Worker Journal November/December 2008.
In this article, Marko continues to elaborate and expound upon his premise outlined in his most recent book.
He argues that in the past, Youth Ministry 1.0 was built and focused on proclaiming messages to students.
Youth Ministry 1.0 = proclamation-driven
Generations later, a new wave of youth ministry began focusing on programs to attract, retain, and educate teenagers.
Youth Ministry 2.0 = program-driven
Times are changing, as we all know, and we as youth pastors need to adapt our methods, philosophies, and strategies of youth ministry in order to effectively reach students with the radical love of Jesus.
It’s not a structural thing. Changing our mid-week program or adding a new “community” or “mission” program might be a temporary quick fix, but will not withstand the growing needs of today’s teens.
Quickies never last very long nor are they deeply satisfying.
No, our entire approach to youth ministry needs to change.
This new wave of youth ministry is described by Marko as “not-driven”, meaning having less agendas, less structure and formal ministry times, and less ministry ad on’s.
Youth Ministry 3.0 = Not-driven
As youth pastors, are we willing to substitute our mid-week programs to build better relationships?
Can we eliminate our Sunday evening worship team rehearsal and annual youth conference for intentional times of small groups and community service?
Marko makes a point that perhaps Youth Ministry 3.0 will include the morphing together of local youth ministries in order to provide opportunities for all types of students to connect and grow. If we don’t do that, then head to the church down the road….that type of thing. But this would be done intentionally and withing the framework of networking and partnership together, not to satisfy the consumerist nature of teens.
He also argues that this new type of youth ministry may include multiple youth ministries (not cliques) within the same church. These could provide the opportunity to establish “contextualized, present (not-driven) ministries of communion and mission in multiple youth culture contexts.”
Meaning this…for one type of student, delving into the Word of God is necessary and beneficial for their spiritual formation.
For another type of student, they truly grow closer to Jesus by serving the less fortunate and demonstrating acts of compassion.
Yet another connects with the presence of Christ in the fellowship of others sharing a meal, movie, and a laugh.
Others…it is worship and still others develop spiritually through the ancient spiritual disciplines.
I think you see the point.
Now, a youth ministry can try to offer all of these each week (probably not going to happen)
Or, it can try to incorporate these elements over an entire semester/year. Our youth ministry has been striving towards this end for a few years.
But I wonder what it would look like to restructure an entire youth ministry around these “multiple youth culture contexts”?
It certainly could have geographic and demographic implications, but I tend to believe that different students need to encounter Jesus differently and at different times, so the implications and affiliations would hopefully be more spiritual, cultural, and contextual.
Perhaps our mid-week one size fits all approach to “youth group” is really only ministering effectively to a few groups of students. I mean, others come and may even play a few games and listen to the message, but month after month they are not seriously connecting with others or with the God who they desperately yearn for.
“For teenagers desperate to define their identities through affinity, we need to help them experience true community. True community doesn’t mean once-a-week, highly programmed youth group meetings…True community is life-on-life, eating together, sharing journeys, working through difficulties and serving side-by-side, wrestling with praxis (theology in practice), openness, accountability, safety, cultivating shared passions and holy discontent. True community is not a program, not something people sign up for, not something we force.”
What an incredible and challenging thought from Marko. This strikes me to the core as I realize how often in my ministry I have tried to promote a program for building community and making disciples.
But the last time I checked, discipleship is not something taught and learned, it is something lived.
The same is true for community.
I wonder what would happen if youth pastors joined together and starting caring less about how many students come on a given night, and more about how many students we truly connected with each week, month, year, etc.. How many lives we actually entered into it.
Marko issues this challenge: “Strip down your programming so you have space to spend time with teenagers and God and consider rebuilding something new and fresh”.
I hear ya Marko, and God help all of us to put into practice what we know we should be doing..and why we we hopefully went into youth ministry in the first place.