You know, it's funny. The generation of youth ministers are on the incline because of people like MarkO, Doug Fields, Duffy Robbins and many others. These people have helped pave the way for youth ministers to be a real ministry in a church. Youth ministries are now seen as a real branch of the church. In the beginning stages of youth ministry, it was available in churches, but either the pastor or a volunteer would be leading the group.

However, today, we are seeing a youth culture that is craving more and more. In a microwave economy, we see ministries and students involved in those ministries want more and more at a faster rate. The demand for the product is higher than the producer can produce the product (that made sense right?). As youth ministers, we are asked by our churches to do a lot more and the students want more as well.

And now there are youth ministers rising up, and it is not in a good way. Youth ministers are getting defensive against the churches saying their demand is too high, their pay is too low, and we will do a little bit more than the minimum for the maximum result. Youth ministers are getting into a turf war with churches. One big reason is that older adult leaders in the church will see the youth as the church of tomorrow. However, you ask a youth minister, they will tell you the youth are just as important as the older adults in the church. THE YOUTH ARE THE CHURCH OF TODAY!!! seems to be a battle cry of a lot of youth ministers. Youth ministry culture is at a cross roads and some of us are not sure where to go.

That is why we lean upon the people who have helped pave the way. Most people will look at those before them to help pave the way for them, or to help that person form their own path. I can agree and disagree with the new turn that youth ministry is taking. I can say that the youth are just as important as the rest of the church; students are the church of today as well. The part I disagree with is that churches see youth as the church of tomorrow. The trend amongst pastors is that the youth ministry is one of the most vital branches of the church.

My call to youth ministers is this: even though we run a ministry, it is not it's own church. When youth ministers are entering this turf war between the church and them, it is a ground that starts to build the student ministry on their own foundation, thus building it's own church. I am a firm believer that the youth ministry is just a branch of the church. We are trying to align our ministry to the vision of the church so that we are not teaching against the vision that the church as a whole is trying to accomplish. Try not to enter turf wars. Sit down and talk with your pastor about direction of the youth and see what they have to say. Most pastors have worked in youth ministry, so they can offer some help in that area.

Be encouraged by the vision of the church. Be excited about aligning your self with the vision of the church. Be the branch that bears just as much fruit as other branches of the church. Support the other branches as well, but focus on how to grow your student ministry so that students follow through onto college and adulthood, loving Christ and following God's will for them.


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