Posts Tagged ‘ National Study of Youth and Religion ’

From the First/Third Event……………………………….Nancy Going

At last week’s FIRST/THIRD Event at Luther Seminary, Kenda Dean focused her first lecture by asking these questions:

“What if the problem with the American church is not the youth? What if the problem is the church?”

I know that statement gets youth ministry people like you and me all excited about the ways that statement underscores what we’ve been thinking for years. And the rest of Kenda’s lecture was about the following two statements:

1      The best way to stimulate spiritual health in a congregation is to invest in the spiritual growth of young people.

2      The best way to stimulate spiritual health in young people is to invest in the spiritual growth of their parents.

Again something that you and I might already know, but are we doing it?  Or are we complaining about their parents?  Are we fighting with the priorities of their parents? Are we focusing on the spiritual growth of parents in such a concentrated way that it will actually have an impact on their young people?

Instead, how could we prioritize and develop the kinds of relationships with parents that will allow them to see us as a partners?

These insights of Kenda’s are borne out by the both the NSYR study and in these Exemplary churches.  Look at the first of the 44 Faith Assets related to the family:

Possess Strong Parental Faith: parent(s) possess and practice a vital and informed faith

If you were to add just ONE asset to your ministry, why not this one?

Dr. Nancy Going is a 20 some year veteran of congregational youth ministry.  She coordinates the Distributed (distance) youth ministry students at Luther Seminary.  She did her PhD research by interviewing adolescents from the Exemplar congregations.

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LIFE TEAMS………………………………….Jerry Watts

For years I have struggled to move beyond the “if we build it they will come” programmatic formula for youth ministry.  In my quest for fidelity to the great commission I’ve asked if counting heads in our programs is not bearing fruit (as both my experience and studies like Christian Smith’s Soul Searching tell us)…then what do I aim at to judge the fidelity we seek?

Kneeling in prayer is always the best first step in responding to that question.  After I did that, I’ve found the Exemplary Youth Ministry’s Characteristics of Mature Christian Faith to be one of the ways God has answered that prayer for a new target.

In Greek the word Life (zwh or Zoe) almost always refers to life in Christ.  (I’m taking Greek, can you tell?) We developed a design team in our congregation to build a ministry that was not based on program or schedule, but rather centered around relationships, Scripture, partnering with the home, and pointed towards the EYM’s characteristics for mature Christian youth.  Sound impossible?  Nothing is impossible with God right?  We went for it.

Even the design team was divided between the skeptical and the cautiously enthused. Some thought we just needed to work harder to attract more kids.  Some said youth and parents wouldn’t respond.  Others said we would never ever find enough adults who would be willing to come alongside students.

We haven’t arrived yet but God willing we are starting to get our footing for a LIFE TEAM MINISTRY that accompany youth in their life in Christ.  We are seeing the consequences in our young people and in the culture of our congregation itself.

More details coming tomorrow.