The efforts of youth ministry pioneers like Yaconelli, Burns, and Long began to bear fruit in the local church as youth ministry rose in importance in many churches. But the first generation of church youth workers also began to have a noticeable impact on the Church at large, as they began to take their innovative approaches beyond the walls of the youth room and into the sanctuary.
“In good youth ministry, you go where students are, you don’t have students come to you,” he said. “So many churches still operate on a model where, you try to do a really good program, so people will come to it. And there is still a portion of youth ministry that is very program-driven. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a thing.
“The issue becomes when you stop at the program, or you think that by moving people through programs you have introduced them to Jesus or have impacted their life,” Long continued. “Program should be a means, one of the steps, not the goal.”
Inpart 3Tic Long, of Youth Specialities, says:
“They’re going to kill me for saying this,” Tic Long said, “but youth workers are often better communicators than pastors. They may not be better preachers, but they know how to grab the attention of middle-school and high-school students pretty quickly; kids who aren’t in the habit of being polite to just listen.”