Youth Ministry (made in America)

In a recent article titled, If I were an American Youth Worker, British youth minister and the International Director of International Christian Youthworkers, Colin Piper, makes the following thought-provoking statements to America’s youth ministries:

Your programs are good, but do they really cut it? Ultimately the question needs to be asked, what questions are you asking? Correct me if I’m wrong, I really want to know, so email me: Why exactly are churches hiring youth pastors? Is it because they are asking the question: how are we going to reach the lost? Or is it because they are asking: how are we going to hang on to what we’ve got? Yes, we’re back to the parable of the talents again!

It seems, admittedly to an outsider, that American youth ministry is run by the Christian kids, with the result that it is largely entertainment. Parents panic over their kids, and suggest the church elders hire someone: heck, they’ll even cover the budget through their tithe! The young Bible College graduate arrives, largely inexperienced, but that’s no problem because the kids tell him or her what he or she needs to do, and as long as he or she does it, all is well. If of course he or she doesn’t, the kids quit the church, the parents turn the screws on the elders, or at least the treasurer, and the youth pastor has to look for a new job, a new start, and a new philosophy, which we in Europe call “laissez faire”!

Fair assessment?  Or is this just an out-of-touch Brit?


~ by Dave Smith on December 8, 2007.

3 Responses to “Youth Ministry (made in America)”

  1. A fair assessment in my opinion. Working with primarily unchurched students, it’s hard to find churches that will accept them (we are lucky that we have found a couple). For the most part parents don’t want their kids hanging out with “those students” who don’t act like Christians. Therefore making it that much more difficult for the youth pastor to do much more than create a “christian huddle”

  2. a bit overstated, perhaps, but usually an initial diagnosis needs to be so in order to attract attention. i think the general idea is right on, and i see it ehkoed.

  3. Yea, I wonder if the smaller the church, the greater the chance of having the kids/parents “run” the ministry?

    Regarding the unchurched mixing with the church…I sometimes wonder where the line blurs between issues of immuaturity (fear, judgmental attitudes, Christ against culture) and contextualization (culturally appropriate, different churches for different people, etc.). Whatever the answer may be…I think the answers to both uphold the need for the existence of parachurch ministries connecting with those emerging nitches.

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