The future of youth ministry

Mark DeVries, author, speaker and youth ministry consultant/coach, posted a fascinating blog post yesterday speculating on the future of full time youth ministry … and it’s sustainability.

A month or so ago in my blog, I suggested that it may be time for us to begin preparing for a youth ministry “famine” that is likely to take place 20 years or so down the road.  I’m not predicting that this will be a famine in the quality of programming or the importance placed on youth ministry, or even a famine in the number of well-trained youth pastors.

I’m suggesting that, given our current economic trajectory and the low levels of enthusiasm in younger generations when it comes to giving to institutions (like the church), there is a good chance there will be less resources available to hire full-time youth pastors 20 years from now than there is today.

Read the rest of the post here.

Mark’s observation is something I’ve wondered about for a few years now. I think the larger churches (1000+ people) will be be impacted later, but that’s only a few percent of the churches in America. The vast majority are in the 100-200 people range. His ideas for a ‘Joshua Project’ have me intrigued. Maybe it would be more accurate if named after Paul and his tent making efforts to support himself while in ministry.

I think there’s a lot to be gained in enabling men and women to be focused on youth ministry full time, but there is a growing shift in our culture, and with each generation it’s changing more dramatically. I do wonder what the future holds. Maybe young people would be better advised to double major if they’re going to get a degree in youth ministry? So that when they hit their 30’s and 40’s they have other skills to lean on? DeVries is not the only one predicting this shift; many of the major voices in youth ministry are seeing the signs of change.

Definitely something us ‘career’ youth pastors need to be thinking about.

3 thoughts on “The future of youth ministry

  1. Ha! Encouraging blog post to read! Sorry about that …

    Well, the first thought is that it's just speculation. It could be wrong.

    The second thought is being versatile. Maybe a decade or two down the road youth pastors will have to be more flexible, wearing more hats in a church and learning to manage volunteers more than doing a lot of it themselves. More of an associate pastor role than a specialized one.

    The third thought is that youth ministry seems to have major changes every twenty years or so anyway. I love Mark Oestricher's book, Youth Ministry 3.0, where he chronicles some of the various stages of American youth ministry. Maybe it will be morphing into something we don't see now, but if we are open, continue to pursue learning and growth, then we will be better equipped to make that transition into the next stage of American youth ministry.


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