Series Editor, Tim Schmoyer This is the seventeenth installment in my on-going series as I try to discover current issues facing youth ministry. Over the past several months I've collected interviews from youth workers all over the world. Greg Stier is a Jesus-loving raving lunatic and is the President of Dare 2 Share Ministries.
What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is struggling with today? A solvent and solid theology of youth ministry as family ministry. I’m convinced that our grid is jacked. Parents need to be central to the process of our teenagers’ spiritual formation and not disengaged bystanders. Deuteronomy 6 was written to moms and dads not youth leaders and adult sponsors. We need to get better at engaging parents in the process and giving them the tools they need to bring it up with their teens.
In addition we need to lead the process of helping our teens engage with significant Scriptural truths and wrestle with the most basic questions of God, His Word, Jesus, salvation, etc. If they don’t wrestle now they will wrestle later. But the one lined up against them in this wrestling match will be the Philosophy 101 professor their freshman year of college. He most likely will pin their premises to the mat in less than twenty minutes and full nelson their faith until they cry uncle. The result? More posers. More rebels. Fewer losers (who have lost themselves to follow Jesus longterm.)
I propose a radical new paradigm that’s 2,000 years old. Sorry to be so simplistic, but Scripture is either sufficient, relevant and transformational for every generation (even the tricky postmodern ones) or it is not the Word of God. If we don’t get back to the basics and stop trying to entertain our teens we are going to lose them. After all we are not as cool as we think we are. But the Word of God is every bit as powerful as it claims to be.
What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is responding to effectively?
I think youth ministry is responding to the deep-seated hurts of teenagers in more effective ways than ever. Youth leaders are getting better at being aware of the teen world of angst, self doubt and inner pain. Perhaps the growing list of resources that deal in these areas is a big part of the reason youth ministry is responding more effectively in this area.
In addition I am excited that more and more youth ministries are getting technologically engaged. If we can learn to use the internet instead of fighting against it (why try? it’s an unstoppable force and fully integrated into this generation’s psyche) we can find more ways of communicating to them, creating true community and providing resources that will equip them in real and relevant ways to be a Jesus follower at home, school, online, offline, wherever, whenever.
In what ways does youth ministry need to change?
In a ministry world that is constantly on the look out for “the next new thing” I am of the mindset that we need a recalibration back to the core “old things.” Truth, theology, evangelism, relevance, love, servanthood and the power of the Holy Spirit.