So here’s the thing:
If we have a situation where youth ministries are trying to ram purpose driven whatever into their ministry (or willow, etc) and coming up goose eggs – there has got to be a better way and I have a few suggestions and observations.
Goose Eggs = failure. Now this seems harsh at first but essentially my premise is that unless a ministry philosophy and strategy has had at least 7 years to work it can’t really be called a success. That is not to say that the preceding 6 years of ministry are write offs. But its hardly possible to say that after 1 or 2 years we have experienced success.
Youth Ministries that flourish and have permanence:
-start at the grass roots. I mean that leaders are interested in involving people (parents, students, volunteers) on the ground level. Evaluating context and effectiveness of ministry models and strategies is done by everyone. This can be a very humbling process. It can also easily lose momentum with out an effective leader driving the process
-start from scratch. Although there are many good models out there to implement – successful youth leaders/ministries do not super impose any framework or methodology on the ministry. Instead they choose to use the familiar frameworks as a back drop to developing their own thing. This creates ownership and unity. (This is basically Bill Hybels story – and talk to Blaine Greiner sometime about his own ministry experiences) The difficulty here is that many youth leaders are only exposed to one maybe two models. And not everyone has the skills to orchestrate the process of paradigm building.
-remain organic. Ministries that remain adaptable to changing cultural and community dynamics are better able to adjust their approach to accommodate the ministry needs. Instead of adopting the franchised method that is popular in ministry – these ministries carve out significant time to re-evaluate all the dynamics of their ministry. This is different than ‘thinking outside the box’ because there is a lot of value in maintaining consistency in ministry approach as long as it clearly remains effective.
-have the support to take time. All these things take time to develop. Unless the ministry leaders are going to have support from the political power in the church that recognize the time investment needed – the pressure to do things this way will be derailed. It is really difficult to expect the youth leaders to address the needed changes when the focus is on quick results.
-youth leaders have ample time to read and study new methods and evaluative techiniques.
Suggestions in Part 3