Bonhoeffer believed that all theology, ministry, and faith begins with the question, “Who?” Who are you? Who is this Jesus of Nazareth? Who is this one who heals? Who teaches with authority? Who is this?
The incarnation is how God did ministry, so this is how we should do youth ministry. When we practice relational youth ministry in the who, we enter deeply into theology. We search to discover who God is, who God is calling us to be, and to whom we are called to go.
When we fall into practicing relational youth ministry in the how, we become programmers or service providers, seeking to find the best model, angle, idea, or event that matches some idealized, frozen form of ministry.
The incarnation is the invitation to join God as God enters the lives of adolescents seeking to discover and support the distinct who that they are in their suffering and joy. The incarnation means that God has taken on humanity in its fullest, meaning we are free to be human. Place sharing with others is the invitation to join in the lives of others, to mutually open our humanity up to the other so we together might be known, and in our togetherness know the Creator, who (we confess) has become one of us by tenting with us.
The goal of youth ministry is to be human beings who seek to be human with and for others in the power of God who has become human for us all.