This past week I was able to spend a few days at the Youth Specialties National Youth Worker Convention and I have to say that it was a hope filled few days. I have been serving teens in different roles for the past 14 years and after seeing all God is doing in ministries across the country I am full of hope for the future of the church and the role that student ministry is playing in that story. I had the chance to meet Dr. Jim Burns at the conference and in the middle of a session on Partnering with Parents he pointed out the new move he is seeing in youth ministry today. I agree with Jim, there is a new move happening in student and family ministry and this is what it looks like…
- Church honoring // more and more student ministry leaders understand we are called to lead teens to connect with the church not for our ministries to replace the church
- We beginning to partner with parents // next gen leaders are beginning to understand we can do more when we empower and partner with the family
- Worship focused // ministries are not just entertaining they are pointing the next generation to Jesus week after week.
- Better trained // next gen leaders have better training and education than ever before
- Technology and media savvy // next gen leaders understand how to leverage technology to better reach this generation.
- Mission influenced // we are actually helped the next gen embrace mission work very early.
- Campus and Relational evangelism matters // teens are reaching teens with the gospel and next gen leaders are equipping them to do this!
- Crisis intervention is more understood // next gen leaders embrace the truth that they will need to be ready to help people move through the mess life brings many families.
- More multicultural // diversity is becoming the new norm!
- Experiential // it’s not just about talking heads anymore, next gen leaders are embracing experience and community as the basis of communicating truth.
What are some shifts you are seeing in student and family ministry leadership?
I hadn’t thought about “church honoring.” I’ve used the term integrated. I see a shift toward including students, and to a lesser degree, children in the church’s ministries. I see this as a recognition that students represent a vital, essential part of the body of Christ today.
I’m also seeing more concerted effort to honor the family by providing experiences for families, not just students.
Thanks for this great post. I’m particularly interested in your point about partnering with parents. I think that too often youth ministries happily welcome new kids without acknowledging the role of parents in their children’s spiritual growth. Rather than taking over the reigns of spiritual nurture, youth ministry needs to focus more on partnering with parents.