Seismos is a gathering of 17 youth leaders from 4 states & 15 churches representing over 9 different denominations. We met for three days (April 20-22, 2009) to dig into what the future of youth ministry might be. For this fourth post (intro, first, second posts), I’m going to mention a few of the thoughts that were brought up during our first conversation & reflect on them as well as outline our appreciative inquiry of Youth Ministry 1.0.
“unity is not everyone being in the same room” – too often when we talk about unity in the church, we think that it means we have to create some supra-program that will make everyone feel happy. however, as we grapple with affinity being a defining part of adolescent development and youth culture, how do we balance out intentionally reaching into and even creating sub-groupings of students where they feel free to be open and honest. this specific quote was made in the context (i think…my memory is rubbish) of being a reminder that just because we come up with a program that brings everyone into the same physical location, that doesn’t mean unity was actually achieved (anyone remember more clearly why this was said…i have contradicting thoughts in my own head…but they’re all interesting : )
“2.0 was too often emulation for the sake of population.” – numerical growth was seen as a priority by many in YM 2.0. to achieve this growth, everyone looked to see what the successful (large) youth ministries were doing and tried to do the same (if so & so has a disco-ball & they doubled in size, we should get a disco-ball, too!). the problem with this was that it often didn’t account for the change in culture from the emulated ministry to the emulating ministry. our tools have to be contextualized. this doesn’t mean that we don’t study/learn/converse with others to find out what they do that’s effective (which may or may not have to do with #’s), but we always run the ideas through the sieve of where we’re actually ministering.
“the Kingdom Story captures all 3 questions of adolescence: Who am I, How am I unique, Where do I belong, So how do speak these things effectively?” – we spent a lot of time talking about the story of the Kingdom of God during our three days and how it is such a healthy and helpful framing for youth ministry.
during the second part of our initial conversation, we did an appreciative inquiry of Youth Ministry 1.0. if you’re not familiar with appreciative inquiry, check out Bob Robinson’s summary of it. here’s the outline of best practices we identified in YM 1.0:
What are the positives/priorities that we want to retain from YM 1.0?
-YM 1.0 reflected its culture (Great Awakening, growth of country, churches role)
-passion for evangelism
-creation of missionaries to youth culture
-established boundaries for students
-solid organizations such as FCA, YFC, Young Life
-saw need, stepped out…willing to us an out of the box approach
-use of “para-churches” that are, at times, more able to be true to the mission & passion b/c they don’t have some of the politics of “churches”
-approached through a community mindset instead of through an individualistic church mentality