Multempire - Thoughts on Youth Ministry

Clearing YM Noise Away

Posts tagged discipleship

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Susan Boyle Video - A few years ago she made a splash.  Most of your kids will recognize or have seen this video.  I used it last week to talk about making a splash for Christ this summer.  More than just doing Good, but letting love overflow from what God has been doing in our hearts.  I am praying for Friends reaching Friends this summer, and being “witnesses” (a theme we have been using from Hebrews chapter 12) for Jesus, telling them all the amazing things that God is doing in their lives in clear and effective ways.  I am hoping our youth become leaders and people of Great Purpose in our community this summer.  

Filed under Susan Boyle Youtube Splash Summer Growth Discipleship youth ministry Hebrews Hebrews 12 awesome powerful wow

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Adam McClane Feels Youth Ministry's Cup is 95% Empty - I Respond

Excerpt from Adam McClane’s Blog.  Read the full article at his blog HERE.

You don’t need a scientist to measure impact if you know basic facts about your community.

  • How many students are in middle & high school in your community? How many students attend a youth ministry in your community? Divide.Probably less than 10% of the eligible population. (If you factor in students who attend youth group by choice… this number dramatically falls, doesn’t it?) 
  • How many years has the current model of youth ministry been impacting your community? 20, 30, 40 years? How much have churches grown as a result?At best, church attendance has flatlined over the past 20 years, likely declined compared to 30 or 40 years ago. 
  • You might be able to point to a couple of exceptional examples. (Communities of great impact or individuals greatly impacted) But for the amount of effort, amount of investment, in most communities the impact is pretty small.

It’s not that the wrong people are in youth ministry, it’s not that they are uneducated, don’t care, are lazy, or even under-resourced. I actually think the frustration, the quitting, angst, and the burnout we see in youth ministry is because we have the RIGHT people working 24/7 [largely] on WRONG strategies. [More fairly, their current strategy is OK, just limited in impact.]

That’s not tearing down at all, is it?

My point is that the strategies we’ve used to date have a finite impact. We can look at 40 years of history and say “youth group” will impact less than 10% of any given student population. (How much more evidence do you need to see that this is true? 50 years? 100 years?)

My Thoughts in Response:

Adam - I know your heart is right, and looking at the stats it looks grim, but I see things quite a bit differently.  There is a big picture here and a few factors, I feel, are shaping the tide.

First, your stats are right.  That is the impetus to do what we are doing.  As a person who has just gotten into full time youth ministry within the last four years (after seminary), I’ve chewed on the seemingly grim reality.  But there is more.

Second, the big picture affects the little picture.  Culture moves in waves, and with this transitional phase of American culture, people are saying “Am I religious?  Is God real?”  America was in a similar state prior to the Revolution (Jefferson thought that everyone would be a Unitarian in 40 years).  Look at the Books of Judges, Chronicles, Samuel and Kings.  So much perspective on how generations choose their loyalties. Good or Bad, those who serve the faithful have to continue on in faith that God is working the big picture for the greater glory of Himself (and not necessarily the church itself).  With some of the sins of the people of the church, is it a surprise that people are re-evaluating their stance toward organized faith?  It is a heated topic, but scripture and history are a way to gauge some of this.  

Third, Smal things can lead to Big Things.  We have to remember church history.  In Methodism, John Wesley started with one Small Group, that would eventually revitalize Anglicanism, start Methodism, and lead to the end of Slavery in England.  Small sparks lead to big things, and we have to be faithful.

I’m an optimist by nature (the glass is always 95% full IMHO, because God is greater than… I’ve seen amazing things happen in individual youth, and I’ve seen youth that carry a flame into their cultures (which can be very dark).  But God is always doing a work.  Even if Christianity becomes more monastic and is pushed from the public sphere - we are here, reminding all people that the God that created you loves you and wants your whole focus to be on Him and the transformation of the whole world.  

I feel that we are on the cusp of some great movements in world Christianity.  I’ve learned in ministry that sometimes you have to persevere, wait, and see what God is doing, when everything has already fallen apart.  That’s how we know it was God, and not us.  

Thanks though, Adam.  Your thoughts get my thoughts going. This is by far my favorite blog. Kudos.

Adam’s Reply:

Interesting perspective in light of church history. The reason Wesley (and Whitfield) had so much success? They did a little missiology and built a ministry around where people were at instead of trying to force them into church. ;) 

The Conversation Continued a bit.  I am Thankful for Adam’s insights:

  • Adam McLane Daniel - See, like I said in the post, you can point me to points of success individually or even specific group examples. But we have 40 years of evidence that the current model isn’t enough. My post wasn’t calling for the end of YM at all. I’m just saying that we need to dream about new ways to impact the lives of students. I’m not satisfied with 3-5-10% of adolescents. That’s not theologically appropriate to me.
    30 minutes ago · Like
  • Daniel Griswold This is a hard topic because there are so many moving parts. I agree on the impetus, but I’m worried about discouragement. In history there have been times when things seemed dark, but pointing to a refocusing on personal holiness, and working with the few who are coming alive, God works in their lives to create a network of change for the future.
    10 minutes ago · Like
  • Adam McLane This statement in the post, “My point is not to tear youth ministry down down. It’s to rebuild. We can’t think about the future until we can make a sober assessment of what our tribe has accomplished.” If my premise that a sober assessment isn’t encouraging, I apologize. The intent of my words was to help us dream.
    8 minutes ago · Like
  • Daniel Griswold 
    Thanks Adam. The dreaming element is big and I’d like to see more of that. Perhaps it is just that there are so many voices out there that to a youth minister in the field, it feels like there is an echo chamber purporting the fact that we are “failing”. I worry about younger ym’s and those who read blogs as they tackle tough situations. Likely I should give ym’s more credit though, especially the ones that will persevere and make a differences.

This is from a conversation on Gordon-Conwell’s Youth Ministry FB page.

Filed under Adam McClane Response Reaction Youth Ministry youth life optimism practical growth discipleship Christianity Faith