Youth ministries across the country all have a different: sociological landscape, lifestyle, culture, a psychological mind-set, and ways to experience God. Having a contextualized youth ministry means having a working knowledge of your students, place, ideas, and experiences.
“It’s knowledge in practice that’s developed from direct experience and action, and usually is shared only through highly interactive conversations, storytelling, and shared experience.” (Blaber, The Mission, The Men, and ME, p 129)
The problem with Non Missional Youth Minstries: They import a generic model of ministry and don’t know how to contextualize it to their church setting. I think it is a big problem when we have roughly 70% of North American youth ministries following the same model. The Great Commission is great. We all get it— that we need to GO and make disciples. I think the great commission is just the starting place, when determining your youth ministry mission statement. Being a misional youth ministry assumes that you are already using the great commission. If the youth pastor is using the great commission, it is basically just stating the obvious.
Using generic and out of date ministry models are like feeding your youth ministry fast food every day. Yeah it is good, but it is processed, cheap, and not filled with too many nutrients.
Solution: Assess your youth ministry and design a contextual mission statement that is true for your context. Feel free to use other verses other than the Great Commission.
Warning: Assessing, designing, and contextualizing your youth ministry is hard because it requires the youth pastor to survey and learn the culture in which they are ministering to. This takes at least 1-3 years depending on the cultural norms. It also requires the youth pastor to use his/her brain– heaven forbid. It is not good enough just knowing the data; the youth pastor needs to architect and design a youth ministry mission statement around the data.
Is your ministry model a sacred cow? Can you ditch it?
Are you willing to put in the work in order to get a focused mission statement that mirrors the needs of the town and teenagers?
Define what your youth ministry does really well. Trust me, you are probably only doing 2-3 things really well, not 5.
Contextual YM Book list:
Models of Contextual Theology
Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage our multicultural world (youth, family, and culture)
Presence-Centered Youth Ministry
Teaching That Makes a Difference
Youth Ministry 3.0