The book by highlighting the need for change within youth ministry: Marko highlights how youth culture has moved on at an ever quickening pace, but the church has been slow to engage.  He then goes on to examine where youth culture is today, highlighting the widening of youth culture as:
the low-end age marker has changed due to physiology, and the upper-end age marker has changed due to cultural issues. (p. 31)
Following this Marko maps the history of youth ministry, splitting it into two clear phases:
  • 1.0 – post World War II through the 1960s which was proclamation-driven, primarily about preaching to teenagers
  • 2.0 – 1970s through the end of the century which focused on programs and was driven by discipleship.
Youth Ministry 3.0 “needs to be … not-driven”.  It needs
cultural anthropologists with relational passion. p. 72

The key words for this are communion and mission – in the widest sense of both words.  As youth culture has splintered into lots of different groups so Marko believes we need to have different groups that reach out to different groups of young people using the different passion and skills of leaders present in a church congregation.

Realistically he sees that working out as either one group for some stuff; smaller subculture-specific groups for other stuff or one group most of the time, but with some specific contextualized efforts to create space for the subcultures to which your ministry is called (pp. 94-95).

The book is a good book which succinctly and simply covers the modern history of youth ministry (from an American perspective, for the UK we’d had more links with education).  Marko’s challenges us to develop our thinking about youth ministry for the next generation.

I like the way that he used feedback through his blog and beyond to bring many voices into the book (some of which agree and disagree with him).  His points about being more reflective, and doing less helpfully echo those of Yaconelli and Dean in recent years.  Initially I have concerns with the splintering of youth ministry, but I understand what he is saying and want to wrestle with it more.

Overall a challenging book that is worth wrestling with.

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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