I was thumbing through an old youth ministry textbook (1997) and reflected how much youth ministry had changed. The book touted different models of youth ministry and left it up to the reader to “pick and choose” one that adapts to your ministry context. A lot of the models were outdated and some of them should never have been mentioned but the book and the 8 1/2 years I have been in youth ministry has caused me to think of some serious questions:
- Should we ever look at other models of youth ministry as templates or should it be a helpful guide when contextualizing our ministry?
- In what ways do past models inform how are ministry is working?
- Is youth ministry about models anyways? Missional, attractional, whatever…
- In what ways should youth ministries adapt and in what ways should youth ministry never change?
All of this thought has led me to at least two firm commitments: 1) never stop learning and 2) youth ministry is not about picking and choosing a model more so learning in a community of believers at what works.
First we start with the last commitment…
There are tools to the trade that are normative throughout all ministries (i.e., keeping parents informed, medical releases, casting vision, discipleship, etc.) but some things work in one context that will not fly in other. Sometimes you do not have the right resources (volunteers, money, etc.) to pull certain things off. Sometimes it is not the right season for doing certain things. Maybe you need to plan more or maybe you need to be more relational or maybe you need to have a season of recruiting volunteers or maybe you need to work on building the right team or maybe you need to establish credibility in the large context of your church and community.
Which leads me to my number 1 commitment: never stop learning. I can provide all fancy quotes for you but the bottom line is you never will arrive at a point in youth ministry where you have it all figured out. Never. If you are at a point where you consider yourself an expert (not to be confused with veteran) then prepare to be humbled. Never stop learning. Look at awesome blogs, talk with veterans, learn from each other’s success and failures and take action.
What are your suggestions?