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More than a cool, young guy with a frisbee and guitar?

I read this article today from the Washington Post about youth ministry. (thanks for the heads-up from marko)

It's interesting (and encouraging) to hear about youth ministry from someone 'outside' of the ministry bubble. Couple of brief thoughts...

The possibility of youth ministry as a full-time vocational calling is something that has grown in validity and changed in meaning over the last couple of decades. Youth ministry is thought to be a viable career (or is at least beginning to be) for someone wanting to serve in vocational ministry. As the article mentions, youth ministry is shifting from something for the "young, cool guy who is good with kids" (which is encouraging for me, since I'm not as young or cool as I may have once been). These types of ministry positions are more highly valued (or maybe just more common) than they used to be. The staffing of someone hired specifically to coordinate a church's ministry to young people is seen not only as a good idea, but as a normal, even essential, part of a church's overall programming. As churches seek to meet the needs of those in their local community, teens are recognized as an important segment of the population not to be overlooked, especially given much of what is happening in (post-?)modern youth culture.

All of this isn't simply throwing more weight behind lock-ins, water balloons, and rounds of 'chubby bunny'. Those serving in youth ministry are relied upon for a wide range of skills; managing budgets, planning programming calendars, leading trips, teaching the Bible, counseling teens and parents, communicating with youth, recruiting volunteers, being an expert on youth culture, etc... The skills necessary for all that is expected of most youth ministers can make it seem as if 'professional juggler' needs to be on the job description. As noted in the article, "there is an avalanche of resources" for those serving in youth ministry these days from a variety of publishers, and training for ministry positions has improved and increased.

As society has created, or at least prolonged, that phase we call adolescence, it's exciting to see how the church has responded to the call of God to reach all people with the message of his love for all and to invite teens to live into the reality of God. There are still many ways that youth ministry needs to be reshaped, reformed, and reimagined. But then again, there always will be.

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