Last week I wrote a review of Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Ostreicher where I criticized the book’s lack of theological and philosophical engagement. Instead, the book focused mostly on cultural shifts and how youth ministry has not adapted to this latest shift. My argument was that the shift that is occurring goes much deeper than culture. In fact, I said that part of Youth Ministry 2.0 was simply wrong; it was not just a culturally relevant approach. Youth ministry 3.0 needs to correct some of these mistakes, not just adapt to culture.
That being said, the basic outcomes of this cultural/theological/philosophical shifts are all about the same. When Marko described what youth ministry 3.0 should and might look like, I was in basic agreement. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that many churches, mine included, have not made the theological and philosophical shifts that I had hoped Marko would talk about in the book. We are still stuck in the modern mindset and operating out of modernist assumptions.
This made me wonder, might the cultural approach to change that is advocated in Youth Ministry 3.0 be a way to move people towards a post-modern theology and philosophy? Most parents and adults can grasp the idea that culture is changing and can talk the language of adolescent development; however, they might not be so excited to talk about philosophy, or they will reject it because it sounds relativistic to them.
Perhaps by making the cultural adjustments within out ministries we will in turn eventually help people make the theological and philosophical shifts that come along with it. But to start with theology and philosophy would simply end up making people defensive to change. Who really wants to debate truth, objectivity, and hermeneutics? Chances are, a small few. However, if we cloak our vision for change around a changing culture, one that is readily observable by the average layperson, they might in turn become receptive to the deeper shifts happening around us.