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I sat down the other day with a youth pastor and asked a direct question that I’ve asked a number of youth leaders: “What percentage of your youth become adult, mature Christians?”
His response: “You want the truth?”
I said, “Of course.”
His answer: “About 25%.”
We both sat there, fumbling our coffee cups, looking at one another, nothing said and nothing to be said. In grief and wonder we searched for what we might do together to change the course of the church. His numbers are about average for evangelical churches. I wonder if some youth pastors would sit down, think for 15 minutes or so over the last few years and what has become of their youth. What “worked” and what “didn’t work”? Listen to these ruggedly honest words from Mark Oestreicher:
“The way we’re doing things is already not working. We’re failing at our calling. And deep down, most of us know it. This is why we need an epochal shift in our assumptions, approaches, models, and methods.” This is from Marko’s new book: Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We’ve Been, Where We Are & Where We Need to Go
. We want this blog to participate in that “epochal shift” and so we need to take a good hard look at this book.
Marko’s second chp sets up some important terms, and they overlap with our series on iGens. Three features of youth happen during adolescence:
1. Identity (formation): Who am I?
2. Autonomy: How am I unique and different?
3. Affinity: Where do I belong and to whom?
Marko’s proposal: the priorities of these three have shifted. From WW2 through the 60s, the focus was on identity. From the 70s through the 90s, the focus was on autonomy. The newest generation, however, is not as much about identity and autonomy as about affinity.
Youth ministry, Marko contends, has failed to adjust to the shift of emphasis on affinity.
Marko (and others), here’s a question for you: Would you say that I, as a professor, would have felt 30 years ago that my students were not yet adults but today I might sense that I’m not in their world? Has there been a shift from youth growing into the adult world to a culture much more shaped by their culture?