What things will the next generation of youth need in a youth ministry?
I argue there are three essential earmarks youth ministries across the nation will need to have in motion:
1) Places and spaces that encourage belonging
Throughout history people need places to gather. As time progressive and as families and student fragment more, students are going to need more places and spaces to express who they are. I think the problems within youth culture are only going to intensify. The future of youth ministry will hang on whether or not youth ministries are creating spaces where they [the student] can meet God in their pain.
2) Focused theological identities that have clear trajectories
Basically the youth pastor will need to have the tools to know how to assess their youth ministry in order to contextually design a youth ministry model. In short, the youth ministry will need to formulate a clear ecclesiology that spells out their theological values. Every youth ministry will need to answer the questions of: Who are we? How are we unique? How are we different from every other youth ministry in the country? What should we focus on? What ways are we restoring the world? What are our non-essentials? It is imperative for a youth ministries to know who they are and where they are going.
3) Adults surrounding clusters of students
Chap Clark argues that for every 1 adult there needs to be 5 to 8 kids. Students need to encounter spiritually healthy and mature adults in their lives. Every student needs to feel somewhat connect to an adult so they can take their spiritual/life questions to them. Remember one of the goals of a youth ministry is to challenge students to take an ownership of their faith. In order to take ownership, they need to ask a lot of questions to adults. This is why youth ministries that focus on pulpit pastoring are problematic. Students need interaction and confrontative feedback as they explore theological topics. Adults are the connecting piece for youth ministries that are wanting their students to test everything, making sure it is good and true (1 Thess 5.21).