Q and A from the podcast: 4 Current Trends in Youth Ministry
Here’s a look at one of the questions in our discussion from the live podcast this past week.
Youth ministry comes in different shapes, sizes, colors, personalities, attitudes, backgrounds, and even faiths. Every setting, whether urban or suburban or rural. And even in the small or medium or large Church. Every leader has ways or philosophies they lean to.
But, the one constant is the generation we are trying to reach. They call them GenZ:
It will take an informed effort to bridge the gap between this generation and the Church. And here are some trends that I see in this set. Remember, my ways or leans are not necessarily right for you. They worked for me in my setting. And although I have the advantage of being in all kinds of settings and seeing all kinds of models, every leader must define their own way of doing youth ministry.
What do you see around the country in youth ministry?
There are many things that we have posted in this blog, but, let me deal with two negative trends and two positive trends.
First, one of the negative trends is the disintegration of the family. This is no secret. We have lost the family structure in America. And much of what we are dealing with in the wake of this is not good. We need youth leaders to step up and fix this.
If we don’t stop this negative trend, it will only get worse. Capitalize on this moment. Seize the day. When things are the worse…that is when a Culture Producer steps up. And youth leaders are Culture Producers! Just like David, Esther, Paul, and Jesus, each of us must pray and fast so that the Spirit will come upon us and we can impact our generation. We have to do the same things today that great men and women have done through the ages.
We are not just raising a fatherless generation anymore. We are raising a motherless and a siblingless generation. Students who do not know their family system. There is no correction or mentoring from the family because it is simply disjointed. And the condition of our society has mirrored the condition of our families.
One very practical way for youth ministry to stop this trend is to model healthy family. Here are a few practical ways to do that: Family devotions weekly, prayer at the family table or with the kids before bed, sitting together in church as a family, and youth leaders who invite students into their home to show them what a healthy home looks like. Look at this graphic of a vibrant and spiritual home.
Second, another negative trend in youth ministry is the identity issue. We could define this as a purpose or destiny problem, or, we could define this as a sexual revolution problem. Either way, these can cause an identity confusion. Confusion of our responsibility to the gospel, or, the confusion of our responsibility to our gender. Both of these issues are critical to teenagers.
Think about it this way. When an adolescent finds their identity in Christ, they have everything they need to solve life’s problems. When they are faced with the issues of life they are able to place them in the framework of who they are in Christ and not who they are in Culture. Because they are seeing the world through the lens of their biblical identity and not what the world is labeling them.
Gender confusion is a direct result of a lack of biblical truth, and, a tsunami of cultural thought.
The more our students can understand God’s design for their life, the more they will be able to handle the deception in our cultural. Simply put, when a student has a gender confusion moment because they are attracted to the same sex, contrary to culture, they need to be told that does not mean they are gay. Same sex attraction could simply be temptation. And that can be dealt with by understanding truth. Even in the face of a culture that would immediately label them as homosexual.
Let’s look at two of the positive trends going on in youth ministry today.
First, I love the diversity in youth ministry in our nation. I know that it is not getting much attention or promotion, but it is undeniable. is one of the buzz words in our culture. Living in one world are all kinds of thought. And yet God has created us in this spectrum and has a plan for all of our lives. Even a Junior Higher. What a crazy plan.
Again, we must step up as youth leaders and bring the needed change. All throughout history God has had young Culture Producer’s who have stood against the trends. David wasn’t afraid in front of giants, Esther wasn’t afraid of Kings, Paul wasn’t afraid of the Roman Empire, and even Jesus was used in Jerusalem as a remarkable leader against the religious and pagan system.
It may not be a popular message, but, I will not quiet on this issue. There is a growing gracism in our young people in America that will silence the terrible history of racism in our country if we allow it to.
We are going to get what we promote. And I see so much love. So much unity. And growing respect and honor among the teenagers in our country. If we promote hurt, we will get hurt. If we promote healing, we will get healing. The message for the masses today should be the growing reparations and inclusion that is right before our eyes. I’ve seen it in 2019 in Newark, Wisconsin, Missouri, Portland, Belgium, Florida, and Kentucky.
We have to give the pen to this generation and let them re-write the narrative. Instead of copying and pasting the old narrative. If we celebrate the gracism of a healing nation, instead of celebrating the racism of a broken nation, we will get to where we want to be much quicker!
The second positive trend that I see in youth ministry across our country is a growing emphasis on theology. Youth leaders who are building their ministry on God and not games. Leaders who are defining successful youth ministry as students who graduate and know The Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Gifts of the Spirit, the Fruit of the Spirit, or a basic understanding of Eschatology and the end times.
Our culture has this generation wrapped around its slick marketing ploy. And the danger of juvenialization is that culture has duped many youth leaders and the Church into thinking that teenagers are too young to be taken serious.
Let’s just say that culture, and ultimately the Church, has created CONSUMERS out of teenagers. When God has created them to be PRODUCERS. They call this set of teens consumers because the ‘Merchants of Cool’ (the adult marketing engine) have mesmerized them into thinking that shallow is in. But God is also raising The American Christian Teenager to lead this generation to become a voice that is led by the Spirit with a hunger for spiritual things! (Zechariah 4.6)
We have raised a bunch of teenagers in America who do not know the scriptures but they are comofortable with culture. We have to change this. I want my ministry to raise up students who would rather look like the world than this culture and the world they live in. This will take the power of the Holy Spirit to turn teens into PRODUCERS of culture instead of CONSUMERS of culture.
Young Culture Producers
Just like David, Esther, Paul, and Jesus, we need a generation of Culture Producer’s to step up and shape youth ministry into the next age. Youth leaders who are walking in grace and who can first reset the vibe in American religion, and, ultimately in our nation.
There is no doubt in my mind that God is raising up The American Christian Teenager to see the greatest revival the world has ever seen. As in ZECHARIAH 2.8, “For this is what the Lord the Almighty says, ‘the Glorious One has sent me against the peoples that have plundered you; for whoever touches you, touches the apple of His eye.’” And also in ZECHARIAH 4.6, “Not by might, or by power; but by My Spirit says the Lord.”
The Holy Spirit will not allow us to miss an opportunity to make the greatest impact on America that we have ever seen. And I believe that He will begin this in youth ministry and the Church across our nation first.