i am a youth pastor, so i figure i should say something or share some thoughts about what i do...finished reading the book Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher.
the premise...youth ministry is making a shift [needs to make a shift] with the shifting cultural trends of youth. the 3 dynamics of adolescence are identity, autonomy, and affinity. whereas youth ministry in the past focused on identity [who we are as Christians in relation to the rest of culture] and autonomy [language of owning their faith emerges] today's youth are particularly interested in affinity.
what is affinity? commonality. like-interests. attraction.
what does this mean for youth ministry? the book suggests we must look toward being Missional and Communional [yes, it's made up...community and fellowship centered]. we must break down program-driven, big-event-focused ministry in favor of smaller groups that engage in common activities. if there are kids that like to serve, get them together to serve. kids that are skaters, get together and skate.
i hope that summary is fair [if not, oh well, that's what i got!]. i enjoyed and found thought provoking. some questions emerged for me:
1) isn't the Church, the body of Christ, the one place where people who have no business gathering should gather because of one affinity: common faith in Christ and unity in the Spirit?
2) there is a push in the book to lessening the focus on program - right on! however, isn't encouraging "affinity groups" to go out and do their own thing just another program that further sub-divides the body of Christ? we're not just dividing young/old, traditional/contemporary, now we're talking about dividing the youth into skater/prep, service-oriented/Bible study, etc.
3) finally, is this just another shot at defining "youth culture's" needs? i greatly appreciate the work done in this book and the conversation it begs [and is getting]. as a somewhat cynical youth pastor, whenever i pick up material about youth and the changing face of youth culture, i say, "really? let's ask them."
after reading these works, i usually go straight to the source, the students themselves, and say, "is this true for you and your peers?" i'm excited to see what they think!
if you're in youth ministry or support those who are, check out this book!