NYWC Day 4.0

Final day. Final thoughts Many more thoughts to come.

Brian and I started the day with the 10 minute walk to Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte and a scone, then onto the final seminar session; it was our first together for the weekend. We chose Doug Fields' course on developing a strong volunteer team. He had a lot of good things to say, but one that Brian and I agree with whole-heartedly was that volunteer in youth ministry are never chaperons. They don't just help out the youth leader. They are the ministry. Without them, the ministry would flounder. Students need adults that love for and care about them. God bless them! To see the profiles of our great team, visit our staff page.

Our final session brought Marko (Mark Oestreicher)—president of Youth Specialties—to the stage.

He described the three basic questions of adolescence: Who am I? (Identity) Do I matter/have purpose? (Affinity) Where do I fit? (Autonomy).A person (regardless of being a teenager or not) won't enter true adulthood until they answer these basic questions. For more on that, I recommend reading Hurt by Chap Clark.

Marko then profiled youth ministry from its birth in the 50's to its needed direction today.

Youth Ministry 1.0 began in the 50's and lasted into the mid 60's. It fixated on answering the Who am I question. Culture informed its language and topics. It had a proclamation style, focusing on evangelism. It's "theme passage" would be from Matthew 7 about the wide and narrow gates.

Youth Ministry 2.0 began in the late 60's and continued on until recent years. (Although some would say that the next shift in youth changed long before.) This era fixated on the Do I have purpose question. Culture informed its models & measurements. It focused on discipleship and peer groups. Ministry was program-driven and the "theme passage" could be from Matthew 28 about making disciples.

Youth Ministry 3.0 is the shifting model described next. Marko reminded us that he didn't have a crystal ball, but as the times change, students change, and ministry methods need to change.

Culture fixates now on the Where do I fit question. Culture programs our students now for Community. Marko suggests that Communion and Mission (with the whole church) are good models to use. Instead of being program-driven, be present: Present to God, to the needs of the moment, to each other, and to life in the way of Jesus.

If I can take a quick aside, another speaker talked to us about being present and that having a CEO-like vision isn't as important as you think. He said that people point to Proverbs 29 which speaks about the destruction when people lack vision. But as he pointed out—and I confirmed—the word vision is used in the King James, which was written before our modern day corporate world business mentality. If you check out modern day translations, they use the word Revelation. When the people don't have Revelation...a message from God, they flounder. Therefore, we need to constantly bring the Word of God to His people.

Finally, the "theme verse" for this era could be Acts 2:44-46 and John 17:18, where the church comes together in all unity.

Marko's final thoughts were that the days of one size fits all ministry is gone. What we need to do is contextualize ministry for the students God gave us, do less, be communional—yes, that's a made up word emphasizing community and living out our recognition of what Jesus did—be missional at all times, and be present—live today, in the now.

Was that a lot to digest? Yeah, me too. I'm thankful to work with a great team and that I have many praying for me and the students I serve.

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