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Youth Ministry Book Review: YM 3.0

I am not going to lie to kick it, but I had a blast reading this book. It’s simple, serious, straightforward, funny, realistic, and futuristic. Marko (Pres @ youth specialties) does an amazing job articulating where YM needs to be heading.

What I appreciated:

1. Marko’s sensitivity and awareness. Marko is being very sensitive to those ym that are still stuck in 1.0 and 2.0. Marko is humble enough to admit, (the hot seat (17-18)) that he was that youth pastor conducting ym in the 2.0 paradigm. He is very aware of the current youth ministry landscape, which gave him the ability to call out the white elephant in the room, which is: our current youth ministry efforts aren’t meeting our expectations. Somebody needed to do it and Marko (who is delicate but bold) was the perfect fit.

2. I enjoyed how Marko defined the adolescent life task. Thankfully Chap Clark in his Foundation of Youth Ministry class clearly defines each of these tasks so we as the youth pastor can intentionally speak to those tasks in the way we do youth ministry. I think Identity and autonomy are more individually focused, while affirmity is more communally focused. In another word a teenager needs some alone time to figure his autonomy and identity and the teenagers needs other to affirm his/her belonging.

3. I appreciated Marko’s footnotes and suggested reading list. Not too many youth ministry books have an extensive footnote list. Needless to say I found a two new books I need to read: Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future and Intuitive Leadership.

What I learned:

1. YM 3.0 is an approach that is premature for our current USA youth ministry system. I am assuming that this 3.0 approach will not land properly with youth pastors because they don’t know how to implement this approach. Marko states it best: One of the most dangerous cul-de-sacs that any human organization can drive into is the belief that our current assumptions will continue to be correct, are evergreen, and never need to change. (63) Many of my ym friends are still stuck in ym 1.0 (proclamation) and to fast forward them into ym 3.0 will be like pulling teeth. Also we have to realize that youth ministries, youth pastors, and church ecclesiology has been intentionally developed around the themes of ym 2.0. If a youth pastor wants to move into a ym3.0, this may suggest he/she will need to leave his church or start to have multiple conversation with the senior leadership—which may take a long time.

2. 3.0 YM is multiple ym to multiple subcultures.  The aim of ym 3.0 is contextualization, missional, and communional. I definitely see the practical applications for ym 3.0 but at the same time I trying to understand the theological implications. Bottom line ym 3.0 will reduce the youth group drama. Youth pastors will not have to worry about doing the community building exercise, which 9 out of 10 times is brutally painful.

YM 3.0 is rooted in the theological framework of: Acts 2.44-46a and John 17.18. I am trying to understand ym 3.0 through the lens of Jesus’ disciples. Jesus’ disciples were from many different subcultures, namely tax collectors, liberals (zealots), Jews, conservatives and they made it work. I get the idea that in each of our ym we are dealing with a wide range of student clusters who all have different identities; and it doesn’t help that each cluster dislikes the other cluster.

Here are my questions: Should we divide our youth group according to student subcultures? Is this helping or hindering their adolescent life task? What happens when these students’ subcultures enter the real-adult world? Will their jobs/colleges tailor to their subculture? How do we tailor our youth ministry to the smaller subcultures? When and where will our mid and late adolescent’s learn how to relate to other people they don’t like being around?

3. The difference between passion and driven. I never really thought about this thought. Passion seduces us; being driven guilts us and passion is full of emotions and driven is cold and calculating (113-114). The funny thing is: teenagers can easy detect a youth pastor with passion or a youth pastor that is driven to succeed. And more importantly passion is contagious.

What obstacles lay ahead for YM 3.0:

1. Getting ym to upgrade their hardware from 2.0 to 3.0. This installation process will be a slow task and in the next 5 years it may need some time to work out the glitches. It may need to be updated to ym 3.0.1 before it sticks. : )

2. Providing small and big churches resources that will teach them how to become a ym3.0.

3. Ym will need to re-define the Great Commission. The Great Commission is the classical theological frame work that many ym use to structure and program their ym department. Ym will need to see the Great Commission as a missional and communal movement rather than a 5 program ym template.

4. I will be curious how many yp actually attempt to import the themes of ym3.0. I know some of my friends will keep doing what they are doing. In a sense, ym 3.0 needs a 3.0 youth pastor. I would argue that there is a certain 3.0 youth pastor type. Some of the themes of a 3.0 youth pastor include: open to the themes of post-modernity and existentialism, knows how to facilitate experiential environments, not event focused, but missionally focused, and educated in theology.

Let’s be honest ym 3.0 is a not a concrete model of how to set up our ym. Ym 3.0 challenges the yp to think and contextualize. Who wants to do that? Who wants to think and assess their ministry on top of the every day expectations youth pastors face.  No thanks!

Thanks Marko for writing this book and thanks for including two of my notes in your book.

Other youth ministry book reviews:

Marko.  YM 3.0

Chap Clark. Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers

Mike King. Presence-Centered Youth Ministry

Chris Folmsbee. A New Kind of Youth Ministry

Mike Yaconelli.  Getting Fired For the Glory of God

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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