.::Today or Tomorrow

So here is the paradox that I have been chewing on as I journey through my first year of teaching youth ministry at the University level, “Do I prepare these students for ministry TODAY or for ministry for TOMORROW?”  I have been reading books that talk about how modern youth ministry isn’t working and we are at a place where a major paradigm shift needs to take place.

For example, Mark Yaconelli writes,” The curtain must be pulled back if we are to keep young people involved in the church and if we are to renew our congregations, we first must acknowledge that many of our current forms of youth ministry are destructive.”

The problem is that I identify with what guys are writing, with the way people like Mark Yaconelli, Mark Oestreicher, Francis Chan, Alan Hirsch, etc. are pulling the curtain away from the way ministry is being done today.  In order for the church to become relevant and really have an impact on hte Western world, something needs to change.

If I train them for ministry TODAY, then they will  be irrelevant soon unless they begin to adapt quickly.  If they are trained for today they will be perpetuating a model of ministry that, at best, is able to maintain the students we have in our churches until they graduate.  The impact and outreach that today’s churches are doing is minimal at best.

BUT, if I train them for TOMORROW, they will be equipped how to think about taking the church to where God may be calling it.  There are several problems with this.  First is who has really taken their churches to a place that is working?  Is there really a methodology as to how to do this?  Is that methodology transferable to other contexts?  Second, if these students are trained to be the ministers of tomorrow, and they use that kind of language, Is the church ready and willing to hire them?  In other words, will they be employable?  It doesn’t seem that prophets usually are.  Would your church hire and Amos or Jeremiah or John the Baptist?

CLICK HERE TO COMMENT  let me know what you think . . .

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3 Responses to “.::Today or Tomorrow”

  1. The first of your two problems with training for tomorrow is the real one. If we actually knew what to do I think we would have the courage to go for it. But it is hard to break the mold and risk everything when we don’t even know if it will work. And, as you implied, this is not just a youth ministry issue. It is a church/kingdom issue. The human condition, including all of us who are Christians, is to stumble along into tomorrow the best we can. That being said, maybe the real issue is individuals simply being true disciples in personal life rather than trying to figure out how an institution should keep evolving. I don’t mean that as “anti-church” but to rethink what church is. But every time I start thinking down that road I have trouble seeing how that works, too. Do all church “programs” except corporate worship and shared benevolence disappear with no loss? Maybe.

  2. You are now a liberal university professor. You are responsible to push the envelope. For churches and ministry to leave the instinctive/tribalistic level of ministry and push towards systemic/holistic.

  3. walter,
    i would think part of your responsibility is to teach these students how to think about ministry. for far too long, ministry wasn’t the focus; ecclesiology was. in many places, that model is still entrenched, but you have the opportunity to help these next generation leaders understand a better way.

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