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Youth Ministry Today

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Youth Ministry Today

Last Revised on February 19, 2012

Changing times demand new approaches. What worked in one generation does not necessarily guarantee success in the next generation. This is especially true in ministry with youth. Every generation of leaders in ministry with youth is confronted with the same challenge: to discern the changing needs and life situations of youth and their families and reinvent their vision and strategies. Given the speed of change in our time, the need to reinvent our approach to ministry with youth is particularly pressing.

The developmental needs of adolescents provide a basis for reinventing our approaches. The social changes affecting the United States give us additional reasons for reinventing our vision and strategies.

Consider this brief list of the social changes affecting young people today:


Changing Family Life: the increase in diversity of family structures, including blended families and single-parent families; the rise in dual career families; the busyness and stress of contemporary family life

Changing Economics: the rapidly changing economic scene causing unemployment, career dislocation, and financial stress; the growing number of families without health care; the growing number of families living in poverty

Changing Communities: the concern for the quality of schooling; the concern for safe communities, especially in the face of violence and gangs; fragmentation and competition among community organizations designed to serve youth (schools, religious organizations, youth organizations); diminished funding for community organizations serving youth

Changing Culture: the multicultural nature of U.S. society; the increasing diversity of value systems and lifestyles; the increasing impact of all forms of media and the images and messages they communicate

The challenge for churches is immense, but the work must begin. We need a model to guide our thinking and planning for this new generation of youth and their families.



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