- Neo-Youth Ministry Series Introduction
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 1: “Youth”
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 2: “Ministry”
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 3: The Youth Minister
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 4: The Youth Minister as Theologian
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 5: The Youth Minister as Pastor
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 6: Youth Minister as Spiritual Director
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 7: The Youth Minister as Prophet
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 8: The Youth Minister as Youth Advocate
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 9: The Youth Minister as Interpreter and Synthesizer
- Neo-Youth Ministry Methods: Education and Teaching
- Neo-Youth Ministry Methods: The End of Bait and Switch
- Neo-Youth Ministry Methods: Local and Contextual
A Neo-Youth Ministry will contain significantly less traditional educational time and programs than current youth ministry practice. For some reason, we have been taught to equate depth and maturity with Bible knowledge. I would say that a lot of youth groups have about three main “programs”, each of which tend to center around Bible knowledge: Sunday School, “youth group”, and small groups. In each of these contexts the “meat” is portrayed as being the lesson, sermon, or study time. Any relational benefit is secondary.
A common desire of teens (in my experience) who are ready to “take their faith to the next level” is to participate in a more “in-depth” Bible study (usually in Romans). My response to them has been to say that when they actually do the things that characterize “shallow” teaching (like love your neighbor, forgive your friends, get along with your parents) then we will begin that more “in-depth” Bible study.
A Neo-Youth ministry will not measure depth by Bible study, but by action. We cannot exist in order to fill the brains of our students. We exist in order that lives may be transformed. One of the key cultural myths in American that the church has bought into is that knowledge is the most important factor in affecting life-change. Well, I disagree. If that were the case, tobacco companies and fast-food chains would go out of business, 16 year-olds wouldn’t speed, and people wouldn’t take on more debt than they could afford. It is a factor, but not the factor. No, education alone does not change people. The Holy Spirit does, and the means by which the Holy Spirit works is the church.
Instead of studying educational techniques and theory, a Neo-Youth Minister will study practices and seek to ingrain spiritual practices in the lives of their teens.
Amazing. This is something that I have been struggling with in my own life. I talk alot, but don’t actually do any of the things I say are things I should do. I’m glad I read this today.
Also, what did you think of Dan Kimball’s Emerging Church?
ok so i didn’t go to bed 😉
you really hit on some great points here matt. thats something i started working on with our kids. when i first began working with 1st killyleagh the teenagers had no real root of relationship with them selves in the group. it has been interesting to see how relational activity has played a bigger part in their faith over the ‘bible study time’…and something of a praise was seeing my students preform community within themselves and put on a water slide party for themselves. (with out me having to organize it) apparently after the last two i had done…they had put three together and finally decided to invite me. as for bible knowledge with my kids some are sharp…some are DULL in the case…but grasping the Action first and the reasoning follows shortly after. very cool stuff indeed brother
nice, man. i like this series a lot… are these your own thoughts or a distillation of something else? i’l be sticking around via RSS to read more of what you have to say.
Thanks for the comment.
I always tell my students to never be impressed by anything I say because chances are it isn’t original. I try to read as much quality material as possible, and that shapes a lot of my approach to youth ministry. My Neo-Youth Ministry series is pretty much my synthesis of my reading and thinking over the last few years as it applies to youth ministry. So, in a way, you might say these are my own thoughts. I wouldn’t take too much credit, though.
Notice I say “reading and thinking.” I’m working on the actual implementation of some of these ideas, but it is slow work.
you’re so modest Matthew. so i’m posting a cultural critique of youth ministry later this week. would really like your thoughts on it. just looking cross-cultural youth ministry like in my case. hoping it turns out well 🙂
your 2nd paragraph is very Luthern (end of his pastoral years) when he was preaching out of Matthew i believe it was. was focusing on the sermon on the mount. when asked by one of his leaders when he would move on to something else he simply said when they begin to live out the simplest of messages that were taught through the Mount would he move on. but i would agree with you in that method. it is something i have been focusing with out teenagers this year is simply on practical prayer life…they were pissed come month 6 and 7 but now they are beginning to get it and understand that the simple (sometimes most difficult practices most be stuck out to understand or lived out)
in your response i agree with you but am slightly bothered by some of the concept that yet again a congregation is determining how a youth minister needs to operate. i think you described the current out look of most churches the ‘visionary-type a-administrative’ types.
but my fear would be that again a congregation will just jump on the band-wagon of effective youth ministry for this generation.
really interested in the idea of a new breed though. i know for myself i still really fall into the visionary… not administrative though. i do agree that this new concept of youth ministry will be moving from the gauging of effectiveness. did you happen to read on the ym exchange ” why most missions area waist of time”. i thought it was very good. if not you should check it out…. its late and my thoughts aren’t coming to me well as i would like. i know will discuss this later but still very interested in the development and pracitle side of how this new aged (sorry for using that term) form of youth ministry will come about
re wording on 2nd paragraph: “yet again a congregation is determining how a youth minister needs to operate”
by this i know that a church and congregation would know their children and youth better…this response is made to the fact when as a youth pastor you look at a job description and requirement and more often than not a church is very misguided by what activities a youth pastor should be doing and or even requirements for them…thats is all
i apologized for using that term matt geeze give me a break. Neo always reminds me of nazi-ism and of old RPG’s i played as a kid…but indeed it does sound better than new age. new age bears to much baggage.
as for your comment i agree. i think any movement from where we are currently at as far as majority youth ministry is concerned would be a great improvement. i have to say as i write that as the Apologist i have become…we need to be very safe to not condemn that which is in current existence. and i know your not directly implying anything like that but just the idea that just as the church has evolved in its ways of thinking about practically ministering to the culture at large…we are indeed moving into another revolution of thought in ministry…was talking with Dan when i was back in the states and came to a very interesting conclusion with his help about the future speed of progressive ministry if you are interested
yeah but the 2nd one is funny…anyways
we were discussing the rate of thought shifting and progression of ministry ideas in our age today in comparison to lets say the Revolution or even going back as far as the first Creed. techonolgy allows for ideas to travel at a higher rate of speed. this seems very duh and well it is…but when you study the sociological stance and what it could mean for ministry…you can see a shift in ethos (more micro instead of macro i would say)
in youth ministry. where the movement began about 40 or so years ago…20 years ago you had a shift in thought…then 10…..comes mega church doctrine 5 years ago…and now even if you want to look at this new thought you are producing we are coming even quicker upon change. i’m not sure what to make of it to be honest. we have been able to come to greater understanding of things in ministry through this….but what have we lost along the way. the likes of some wise theologian who spends years and years studying can now be replaced in thought by someones blog or some publisher who knows a book idea will sell 1,000,000 copies in 6 months.
change is unavoidable but i see a trend of change happening quicker and quicker…
i mean stop and think about it matt. just with you and (and our peers) we have seen youth ministry change drasticaly over a 5 year span…from sunday school – mega church rally – para church – emergent thought – cell groups – home groups…very fascinating….so did i tell you i’m thinking about studying theological sociology
sorry this is so long..i should have just called