- 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
As most of you very well know, the prefix neo simply means new. In order to affix this label to a word, the “new” understanding of the word must be so different than the previous understanding to warrant the neo prefix, rather than just slightly adjusting the meaning of the old word. However, at the same time, the “new” understanding must resemble enough the old term in such a way to warrant affixing the neo to the old term, rather than creating a completely new term or reclassifying altogether.
To give a really poor example: For centuries Christians were concerned with maintaining orthodoxy, which simply meant believing the right things. Although the various aspects of orthodoxy may have evolved a bit as time progressed, there was no need to reclassify every reiteration of Christian doctrine with a new word to describe orthodoxy. However, when Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, and Paul Tillich began to propagate a theological program that was markedly different from their contemporary orthodoxy, yet maintained the same aims and goals of historical orthodoxy, the term neo-orthodoxy was coined.
In simple terms, when you designate something as neo-[something], it is markedly different from the [something] but enough like the [something] to continue to use the word.
That is why I would like to use the term Neo-Youth Ministry to describe what I hope to do in youth ministry. The goal is still the same as it has always been: we want to see young people come to know Jesus in such a way that they will become lifelong disciples of him and live their life in the way of Jesus. Thus, I am keeping the term “youth ministry” because in many ways the goal has not changed. However, when you say the phrase “youth ministry”, people tend to have a preconceived notion of what that means, which hinders our ability to adapt, innovate, create, and move forward as an institution. My goal is to do more than just refine or adjust how “youth ministry” is done. I want to completely re-imagine, redefine, and rethink how we understand and go about helping young people become lifelong followers of Jesus. Thus, I would like a completely new classification for what it is I am envisioning. I call this Neo-Youth Ministry.
Some of the building blocks toward Neo-Youth Ministry simply lie in pointed reflection. So, I will begin a series on what I see as some of the components of Neo-Youth Ministry. I foresee at least three additional posts and a conclusion as part of this series. Perhaps it will grow as I think and pray over these things.
May God direct us in the way of discipling our young people.
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