Saturday, April 16, 2005

Revitalizing youth ministry

I will be working with Covenant Seminary's Youth in Ministry Institute (YiMi) Summer Conference in June. Specifically, I'm going to work with the leaders who bring students to the conference; my role will be to offer encouragement and some training to them while they are at the conference. As a part of that, I'm get to present a series of seminars to these leaders, four to be exact, on a topic of my choice. This alone is a great opportunity for me, and I'm excited to have a platform to encourage and challenge leaders in their ministry.

But I'm even more thrilled about the topic that I determined (with the help of the YiMi leadership) I would present: “Revitalizing your youth ministry.” I'm going to be collaborating with the staff from the From Embers to a Flame revitalization ministry (I've mentioned them before in this post) to develop an application of those revitalization principles into the context of youth ministry. Since I have about 10 years of youth ministry experience in different forms, this is already something I've thought about somewhat. I think this could be an interesting and helpful angle to take on revitalization, which I am already quite interested in.

As I've thought about this in relation to placement, I wonder: is there a place for a Youth Pastor to approach placement as a “Revitalization Youth Pastor” just as I plan to approach general church ministry from the revitalization focus? I've known men in youth ministry who saw themselves as “builders;” could others serve as “re-builders?”

With youth ministry, the “life cycle” of the ministry is fairly short, so it is not too difficult to understand the idea of starting over after a while, bringing in a new Builder, and getting a youth ministry makeover from the ground up. But I've also seen this leave a segment of students stranded, without a familiar, stable youth ministry environment (since the ministry they had begun to invest in was effectively dissolved), but without a real stake in the new approach, since they would graduate before it was established firmly. Usually, these students become youth ministry refugees and fall off the map.

Could Youth Ministry Revitalization offer a solution for the refugees that simply bringing in a new Builder doesn't even pretend to offer?

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