Why Exemplary……………………………Rollie Martinson

One of the challenges to the incorporation of the results Exemplary Youth Ministry Study has been its name.  Why conduct a study of “exemplary congregations?”  Is any congregation created by a graceful God while struggling with the challenges of rapid societal change and the ever present power of evil “exemplary?”  Might not singling out some churches as “exemplary” even be contrary to the spirit of the Gospel?  Might not conducting a search for “good practices” in youth ministry have been a more realistic project?  Perhaps.  However, because this study sought congregations that might be examples of faithful and effective youth ministry; and, because this research was interested in patterns of ministry in congregations “inhabited” by high percentages of mature Christian youth; and, because this project was interested in how faith communities “embody” faith with devout young people, “exemplar” or exemplary” seemed the most accurate description of the project.  In fact, example, pattern and embodiment are all terms usually associated with “exemplar” or “exemplary.” It was the intention of the team leading the project to follow God in mission and ministry with young people with the hope of discovering more of  “…whatsoever is excellent, whatsoever is trustworthy…whatsoever is true.”

We believe we found much in congregations that is excellent, trustworthy and true. However, these same congregations were not without their challenges for we also found struggle.  These congregations are doing ministries with youth well; they would be the first to say they are not perfect.

In addition to his chair in Children, Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary, Rollie was the team leader of the Exemplary Youth Ministry study.  He currently serves as Luther’s Academic Dean.

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