A short film was released last year that I’m sure many of you saw called “Divided“. It took some of the research that has come out about teenagers, that many of them are walking away from the church after high school. It appears the intention of the film was to shoot holes into youth ministry as it is now. Despite that this documentary is presumptuous at best, and lacks a real theological and biblical basis, it seems now everyone is scrambling to try to come up with new ministry models to fix the problem (to clarify, this is not based on this documentary alone). A model that is rising above the rest is a movement to “family based ministry.” Even more recently, conferences have been created based on this model, books on how to effectively reach and disciple families, and churches are even creating new job titles based on a “new” model of ministry. As a result there is discouragement among many youth workers, and looks as though lines are now being drawn, dividing youth workers, and creating some hostility. As I’ve been watching this unfold I’m I have some initial thoughts.
1) This is part of the change, and I think it’s healthy. We have been talking for years about how youth ministry is shifting, and the models that are currently being used are not working. Marko mentioned a number of years ago at NYWC that youth ministry is failing. He’s right, something must change! There is a time for action, and churches are exploring ways of changing things. This is good.
2) There is no need get too excited about this. We all need to take a deep breath, and realize that this is not the end of youth ministry. Because we recognize a problem, there are going to arise many solutions. God has gifted us with brains, and creativity. We have the ability to use them for His glory. If we get to upset over things we disagree with, that only distracts us from our work.
3) It’s still all about Jesus. No matter how we go about it, the goal of the church is to proclaim the Gospel. End of story.
At this point, though I have many questions and challenges to the “family ministry model,” it’s still young enough that I don’t feel I can give an honest opinion. Let me be clear, I’m not for, or against this model, I just wanted to offer some of my initial thoughts.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Here is a link to a video from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary that got me thinking. Watch it here.