Let's face it. Youth ministry as we have known it is broken. It no longer "works". I've studied enough and been with enough youth ministers to know that the youth ministry that worked back in the 70's and 80's no longer works today.
Here is what we have done for the past 30+ years:
Church hires youth pastor.
Youth pastor creates fun and engaging programs.
Youth pastor encourages kids to show up and 'bring friends'
Friends become part of youth group.
The world is saved.
Heres the problem: We're still doing that today and it clearly is not working. I've had the opportunity to get to talk to a lot of different pastors here in the past 2 years. Some are my friends that I went to school with and some have been in it a LOT longer than me. They're having the same troubles that our church is having in relation to their youth. Namely not showing up and not getting involved. That makes me feel a little better as I've struggled for months believing that maybe, possibly it was all my fault. Of course there is still that nagging possibility that I am the problem.
Post-modern youth ministry HAS to change in order to survive. How? Wow! I wish I knew the answer to that so I could write a book and make millions. My gut feeling is that parents have to take more of an initiative to get involved in the ministry process. Church youth ministry should ALWAYS be the complement to what is going on at home. The discipleship process should always start at home. When that influence isn't there at home, such as in the case of unbelieving parents, thats when the church becomes more instrumental in the discipleship process.
Something needs to change.
What I would love to do is completely cut off all church activity for a year. No Wednesday Nights. No Sunday nights. No events. Just worship on Sunday mornings. Getting OUT of the cycle of monotony and living the believers life in simplicity of every day life for just a year. Of course, I would be fired for such a suggestion as it is my job to keep everything busy. There...I said it, and I'm not taking it back either!
I always hear about big words like "missional" and "attractional" and why it is bad to be the latter and how we need to be the former. I would agree with that, but how do you share that mindset to other people? That is a complete paradigm shift and people will only believe it when they learn it for themselves. We're fighting 50+ years of church tradition, and that in itself is a near impossible task.
It is my prediction, that within the next 50 years, the churches that are refusing to make these radical changes will either cease to exists, or on the brink of death. I'm not saying that's a bad thing...maybe thats what we need. Being in a section of the country that you can throw a rock and hit 4 or 5 churches in a single throw, less churches may be a good thing.
We need a change. A drastic change. What kind of change, I haven't a clue and I'm always open to suggestions. Let us continue to seek the face of God in all of this as we struggle on making his Kingdom more of a reality here on earth.