Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How Teenagers Transformed the Church

Here is a brief excerpt from a series entitled How Teenagers Transformed the Church that I have been following over on the Out of Ur blog. I particularly liked this portion from part 3 of the series.

The United States is an extremely diverse collection of cultures. Whereas in the past, it was primarily foreign missionaries who spoke of an indigenous approach to evangelism, youth ministry has brought that philosophy home to the American church.

“We are in a culture that is just so diverse, and there have to and should be diverse expressions of faith,” Long asserted. “What youth workers do on a smaller scale, and what we need to embrace, is that there are a number of different ways into a person’s life....We get in trouble when we market and sell a certain way instead of letting things be organic.”

So, what’s next? Long believes that the larger church lags youth ministry trends by approximately 15-20 years. Regardless of the time delay, here’s what it appears we can expect to see in the future of the church:

• An increase in social action and social justice. The emergent movement has called churches outside of their own walls and back into the community. This trend will continue, as indeed it is continuing among current teenagers who are far more globally aware and active than their parents.

• A continued emphasis on relationships over programs. “Good youth ministry is community and relationships,” Long said. “It’s creating this community where relationships can evolve. In essence, all good ministry should do that. People want to connect, they no longer want to just watch....even at Youth Specialties, I think the movement has healthily begun to de-emphasize programming.”

• A movement toward intergenerational ministry. “Part of the adolescent thing is independence, but not completely. Youth ministry should be more purposeful and integrative, so that it is not just an appendage of the church, but is part and parcel of its identity,” Long stated.

Only time of course will tell how or even whether these trends will impact the greater church, but if history is any indication, teenagers, and the people who minister to them, can change the course of history.


Post a Comment

<< Home