I just finished Mark Oestreicher’s new book, ‘Youth Ministry 3.0.’ I grabbed it while I was at the National Youth Worker’s Convention the other week in Pittsburgh; it was on the short list of books I HAD to pick up while I was there. Here’s the short take: I thought it was great, definitely a book that youth pastors and youth workers should be reading and thinking about.
I have to confess, I thought it was kind of funny that Marko seemed almost embarrassed at the size of the book; it’s not big. Far from it – you could probably read it in one sitting if you really wanted to. But to me that is one of it’s great strengths. It’s a thought provoking message that is kept focused. Kind of like Doug Field’s ‘What Matters Most’ book; short, but stronger because of it.
Marko’s contention is that youth ministry has had two major shifts, or focuses, over the years, and we are now at a point in time where it is transitioning into a third major shift (hence the title). Youth Ministry 1.0 was very much proclamation driven; youth workers were missionaries reaching out to teenagers. Youth Ministry 2.0 was and is program driven, with youth workers using various models and programs to disciple and create positive peer groups. During YM 2.0 we saw the rise of career youth workers, which while on the one hand was a positive thing, on the other hand it finally provided us with people who have been around long enough to start realizing that things still aren’t ‘working’ the way we hoped. That maybe we’ve been doing it wrong, or with the wrong focus. Marko’s conviction is that YM 3.0 will be more centered in the present, with a focus on communion and mission.
I think he has some great thoughts; I didn’t necessarily line up with him on some of the ways that we need to change youth ministry. His idea of having multiple youth groups to reach multiple types of kids in one church just seems to be splintering the body even more … although, at the same time he was very much pushing for integrating teens in the church, so maybe I need to reflect a while longer on his ideas because at first glance those two thoughts don’t seem to mesh. What I really loved is that while writing the book, Marko posted the chapters one at a time on his blog and collected input from readers from around the world and included an incredible variety of thoughts, criticisms, agreements, etc., in the book. It was a great way to have a chorus of voices weighing in on the ideas of Youth Ministry 3.0. I also appreciated that he owned Youth Specialties’ role in maybe causing some of the problems (unintentionally) in the practice of youth ministry; it’s not often you see a company president acknowledging that maybe they haven’t always gotten it right.
All in all, I think this is going to be one of the must read youth ministry books of 2009. It’s certainly thought provoking, well written, and relevant. And I’m not too sure that there’s anything else out there quite like it, making it that much more important in the realm of youth ministry resources (did I really just say ‘realm’???).