I want to share a resource that was suggested to me soon after I began doing youth ministry. The book is Postmodern Youth Ministry by Tony Jones.
There are multiple reasons why I like this resource. It is covers a wide range of topics in an informative and intelligent way. It covers history, definitions, and applications of postmodernity. The book also includes comments throughout from 11 other ministers and leaders in the church. It results in voices being woven together to elaborate on points, challenge ideas, and ask further questions.
Perhaps what I like most is that this book takes youth ministry seriously. There are a lot of resources out there if you are looking to have eating contests or gross-out fests that are devoid of any meaning. Jones’ book weighs the cost of youth ministry — the cost of doing good and worthwhile ministry. It asks the difficult questions and makes the reader think about the ministry around them, how it is and isn’t happening.
Besides using it for my own growth and change as a leader, I like to share an excerpt with the youth in my confirmation classes. We start by talking about what the church is, how the Bible describes it and then we read this excerpt together:
We dream of a church where –
We listen and are obedient to God. People who are not Christians become followers of Jesus and pursue a life with God. Those who are not involved in church would become an active part of it. People are deeply connected to God in body, mind, soul, and spirit. Beauty, art, and creativity are valued, used, and understood as coming from the Creator. Culture is met, embraced, and transformed. Joy, fun, and excitement are part of everything. The kingdom of God is increased in the real world in real ways. The biblical story of God is the lens through which we look. Biblical justice, mercy, grace, love and righteousness lead the way. Truth, honesty, and health are a way of life. We value innovation and are willing to take risks in order to bring glory to God. Worship of God is full, vibrant, real, and pleasing to God. Faith, hope, and love are the context for all. The next generation of leadership is built up. Everyone is equipped to do ministry. God’s spirit takes precedence over all structures and systems. Christian community is the attraction to outsiders and the answer to questions of faith. People participate in the kingdom of God in accordance with their gifts. We are connected to and serve the global church. People learn the truth of God and are encouraged to make it central to their lives. Other churches are valued and supported. People’s visions and ideas of ministry come to live.
(originally printed by Solomon’s Porch)
We start reading the list together and then we begin to talk about it as a group. Are there points where you don’t agree? What do you think are the three most important items on the list?
The youth always have different take on this exercise, but it always gets them talking and thinking and imagining what the future of the church is — something we could use more of.
What do you think are the top three things from this list?