A New Kind of Youth Ministry

I want to use this space to post about youth ministry books and issues. The first of these was published in 2007. A New Kind of Youth Ministry by Chris Folmsbee. It is an easy read and has lots of good stuff in there – stuff worth looking at and taking on board. Worth looking at his blog too. But so far this year I’ve began to wonder about the American Youth Minstry model. It seems to be programmatic and professional as opposed to relational and voluntary. Many of the shifts described in the book are excellent but are hard anyone other than highly trained workforce to do. I was staggered to hear that in parts of the States church attendance by teenagers runs at 40%. No wonder the issues they face are different to us.

On a positive note, I love the idea of ‘reculturing’ youth ministry. So much of what we do is passed down without much thought. We too often stick with methods and ideas that worked ten years ago without realising that we live in a different world. I was personally challenged by the contrast between ‘spiritual formation’ and ‘biblical information’. We need so much to be allowing God to transform our lives and helping others to do the same.

The Jesuits haves ome great resources to help with that. Their ‘Sacred Space’ website and ‘Pray as you go’ are great – so different to the tradition I am used to and yet so helpful. These have been helpful in reminding me of our own Scripture Union bible engagement site ‘WordLive.
I’m sure I will return to this book a lot as there are some gems – but mainly because as I continue on this journey of challenge with God, I sense that he is going to ‘reculture’ my faith. That will certainly be an adventure.


2 Responses to “A New Kind of Youth Ministry”

  1. 1 chris
    September 25, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    thanks for blogging about my book. you couldn’t be more right — the american youth ministry model is very programmatic and professional. how does the “american model” differ than the model in the UK? chris

  2. 2 John Stephenson
    September 25, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Hi ChrisIts only relatively recently that there has been a qualification route to Christian youth work (last 10 years or so) and there has been very little work done at MA and PhD level – although that is changing.In order to be taken seriously this youth ministry has tied into closely to mainstream youth and community wotk with its core values. At the heart of that is an empowerment relational modl underpinned by a supposed secular neutrality (no such thing). Alongside that there has been a strong emphasius on relational approaches to youth ministry (Pete Ward being the pioneer to some extent)There has been an explosion in the last 5-10 years of paid church youth workers and so there has begun to be some dialogue about youthwork vs youth ministry.Most church youth work however is driven and run by volunteers. Unlike the USA, church attendance is running at about 10-12% with youthwork numbers lower and significant geographical variation. In the North of England where I live its around 4%Good to dialogue – thanks for asking

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