Have you seen this?
The room is in darkness except for the laser lights. The youth pastor step into the single spot light on the stage. He begins with a short stand up comedy routine then tells an emotional story about a struggling teen. Students are snapchatting the event. The speaker looks down at his phone and reads a Bible verse and introduces his tag line which he will repeat 6 more times before his final appeal.
The band comes back as he concludes with prayer. The students will respond with 2 more worship songs then make their way out of the room for snacks and a hangout time to return for the worship experience next week.
This is one version of what to expect from the typical youth night in the future. I’d like to propose an alternate future that will produce greater life change in the lives of students and their families.
First, While This Future May Be the Dominant Approach…
I expect that people will try to hold on to this version of the attractional model because:
- it makes the youth pastor a rancher instead of a shepherd
- it is less volunteer intensive
- senior leadership expects a rah rah kind of program
- it is patterned after what is happening in many contemporary Sunday service
- It mimics what is happening at Hillsong and other very popular ministries
But Where Will Sustainable Life Change Come From?
We know that life change happens in close loving relationships from volunteers and parents. Ministries that partner with families see hundreds of more hours of discipleship takes place in their student’s lives.
The attractional concert type approach creates an episodic experience for students that isn’t expanded or deepened during the week won’t sustain students. Without opportunities to discuss the truths they are learning and the doubts they harbour students will play a role of the sold out student on youth night but revert back to the typical unbeliever during the week.
As Culture, Media, and the High School Campus Move Further from Christian Values Students will require Daily Discipleship to Survive Adolescence.
The Model That Best Facilitates This Daily Life Change Will Combine Dedicated Volunteers, A Committed Small Group of Peers, The Family, and The Church.
The reason I believe this type of small group ministries will thrive are;
- student culture will become so fragmented that large group programs will connect with only a few
- student needs are going to be so high that the only way they will attend is when they receive personal attention
- parents who will be more involved than ever will demand special attentions for their sons and daughters that no student ministries pastor can deliver
- lead pastors will become aware that without personal care students will not remain in the church until high school graduation. They will demand that student ministries provide better care and better connection with families.
- students will not tolerate fake expressions of community pretending to be close to 60 other students
If you would like to do some more reading on this consider picking up a copy of
Sustainable Youth Ministry By Mark DeVries
Sticky Faith by Kara Powell
Hurt 2.0 by Chap Clark
Almost Christian by Kendra Dean
Your Predictions and Hopes for the Future?
These are my thoughts from reading, talking to students and speaking with student ministries directors as well as parents of teens.
What do you think? What do you see coming down the pike? What are you hoping for?