- 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
The role of prophet is perhaps the most important of all the roles of the Neo-Youth Minister. Though it is significantly related to his or her role as theologian, it describes the type of theologian the youth minister will be. A prophet is a theologian with feet to the pavement. A prophet is the change-agent for God’s people. I see a prophet as one who:
- Knows the heart of God for his people. This is where the importance of theology comes in. We must be students of the word of God and deeply cultivate our relationships with him. We must think deeply and carefully about the implications of what we do as children of God. A defining characteristic of a Neo-Youth Minister who takes the role of prophet seriously will be evident in the frequency of usage of a single word: no. This no will be the first step in repenting from popular youth ministry methods and expectations. We may have to say no to buying youth group t-shirts. We may have to say no to pizza at every event. We may have to say no to printing calendars that people don’t read anyways. We may have to tell the youth band no to particular songs they wish to sing. We may have to tell that parent no who wants to add yet another event to the calendar. We may have to say no to certain programs. We may have to say no to well-intentioned ideas. And we say no out of both our theological conviction and also out of our second characteristic.
- Imagines an unimaginable future. This is why the role of prophet is so vitally important. Many today are well aware that youth ministry is in need of changes. The problem is that often we cannot even imagine the proper possibilities before us. We have been conditioned to think, act, talk, lead, and expect in certain ways; our minds have been captivated by the status quo. We are incapable of thinking beyond the limitations imposed on us by the pop-youth ministry culture (What is even more alarming to me is that the pop-youth ministry culture seems to have been captivated itself by the Empire, which might be a whole other series of posts one day). So, though the problems of current youth ministry practice might be staring us in the face, at least they are staring at us. When we attempt to think of the alternatives, nothing comes to mind to stare back. The Neo-youth minister must be able to think outside the proverbial box and imagine what a theologically grounded people of God might look like. Otherwise, we are left to the norms that have got us in this situation in the first place.
Indeed, the role of prophet is a true necessity to lead us into a neo-youth ministry. The unfortunate thing is that not everyone is called to be a prophet. One can study diligently, pray sincerely, read widely, and discuss deeply and become a decent theologian. Not so with a prophet. The skills of a prophet are not cultivated and developed, but they are given. God is the one who calls prophet. I honestly don’t know if I possess the prophetic imagination. Right now, I am having trouble seeing a sustainable and vibrant alternative to current youth ministry practice. I do know something must be done. May God give us some prophets in our midst who will lead us into a future that we are currently incapable of even imagining.