I was tagged by Marko, who was interviewed by Christianity Today on the subject, to share my thoughts on what youth ministry may look like in 50 years. Even though it's a HUGE question filled with all sorts of possibilities I decided, like I do with most big issues, to try to wrestle it down to a few simple thoughts:
If I had to guess, (and guessing really is what we are being asked to do....) I would make these four (some of which contradict the others):
1) Youth ministry will continue to break new ground for the local church while following its lead at the same time. I think youth ministry is the ground-breaking ministry in the church and is always ahead of the curve. However, its success is often tied directly to the success of what the local church is doing, IF it is a local church-based ministry. So, what will youth ministry look like in 50 years? It will probably look a lot like the local church does in 50 years.
2) Para-church youth organizations will be on the rise. IF the local church can't find a way to re-gain it's footing in our communities, youth ministers will probably abandon it and forge new ways to minister to students. I hope this doesn't happen because if the young, forward thinking leadership abandons an already struggling church......yikes.
3) It will still be 'Trendy'. Now, that sounds a lot worse than I mean it to. But let's be honest; none of us reading this blog will still be leaders in youth ministry 50 years from now. Youth ministry will still be led by younger leaders who are ministering to teenagers. Because teenagers are savvy consumers with fickle tastes, youth ministers will still be caught in the cycle of trying to engage them with whatever happens to reflect the current cultural flow.
4) I have NO idea! Really, 50 years? I'm not even sure I know what my junior high ministry will look like in 50 minutes!
Note: As of 10:45 on October 4, I have read several of the other posts on this topic. Wow...those guys are REALLY smart! Seriously, they use words I've never even heard of.