Marko has mused on the future of youth ministry, and I thought I’d put in my two cents. Since the practice of youth ministry is only a little over 50 years old, we can expect great changes in the next fifty years.
If you ask me, youth ministry is always changing. It is not the same today that it was last year. Because the world is constantly changing, youth ministry is constantly changing. That is, in fact, one of the good things about youth ministry. It is one of the few ministries in the church that is willing to adapt to a changing culture. Youth ministers know that they must be culturally relevant in order to share the love of Christ with this generation. So, another importnat question is how will the world have changed in fifty years? This will impact the way youth ministry is being done in the future.
Because of the nature of my ministry, I think of youth ministry on a global scale. I believe that this is where a lot of the change will come in the future. I hope that youth ministry will have gained an important place in the church around the globe (where it is needed) in the next fifty years.
In Mexico, there is very little youth ministry. There is a lot of youth activity and a lot of young people, but there is little being done to help young people through their problems, share Christ with them in a relevant manner, and nurture them in their faith. I believe that this is changing. I believe that if we look 50 years into the future, there will be trained people who are concerned about young people and are willing to enter their world and share Christ’s love with them.
As more people are trained and begin to impact the lives of young people, more churches around the world will realize the need for youth ministry. More individuals will realize that God has called them to impact young people with the gospel, and more young people will be positively influenced by the church. I pray that the future is bright for young people throughout the world as the practice of effective youth ministry becomes more popular.
I also believe that there will be more missions opportunities for the young people of the world. As the world becomes smaller, there will be more opportunities for believers of other countries to be involved in missions. There are places that young people from the US cannot go, and I believe that there will be greater opportunities for Christians of other nationalities to be actively involved in missions.
As for the United States, I think the factors of a prolonged adolescence and the desire to continue to be young (aka: rejuvenile) will influence the way youth ministry is done in the church. I think that the differences between the church and the youth ministry will begin to shrink. As more churches change to be more innovative, they will be more attractive to young people as well. The difference between young people and their parents will not be as great as it has been in the past, although they will still be living in different “worlds.”
I also think that youth workers will continue to recognize the need for volunteer leaders in the youth ministry, creating more opportunities for relationships to be formed between adults and students, providing more discipleship opportunities as a result of these all-important relationships.
Urban areas will become hotbeds for youth ministry. Unfortunately, presently most youth ministry takes place in suburban, middle-class areas. The world is becoming more concentrated in urban areas, and this will change the way we do youth ministry. I believe that the successful ministries of the future will be located in big cities. They will be the ones who take notice of the specific needs of young people in these areas. Youth ministry will work with these young people, being real with them and their struggles.