I’ve written about the future of youth ministry before and while no one knows what will happen exactly, I do know this: We are experiencing a paradigm shift in youth ministry right now. The question is: are you willing to change your paradigm about what youth ministry is and means?
Let me start by explaining what I mean by paradigm and what I think this paradigm shift entails. A paradigm can be defined as a model, a pattern, a way of doing things. But more broadly, it means a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind.
I think the theological and theoretical paradigm in youth ministry is shifting right now.
It’s shifting from big youth ministry to smaller youth ministry.
It’s shifting from event-driven and program-oriented to personal and relational.
It’s shifting from making converts to making disciples.
It’s shifting from one-size-fits-all to a tailored approach for each youth ministry.
It’s shifting from bought to created.
It’s shifting from entertainment to theological and reflective.
It’s shifting from modern to postmodern (or even post-postmodern).
It’s shifting from a focus on numbers to a focus on people.
The paradigm is shifting, that’s certain. But the thing about a paradigm shift is that not everybody is able to adapt to these changes. Some people have a tendency to cling to what is, what always has been, instead of embracing the new and unknown.
I get that, I truly do, because shifting with the paradigm means letting go of a lot of security and certainty. And that’s really scary.
New methods, new ways, they always invoke resistance and that’s perfectly normal. Few people like change, especially when the changes are this big. But paradigm shifts can’t be stopped. They are happening for a reason and in youth ministry, that reason is that the old paradigm isn’t working anymore.
So the question is: are you willing to change your paradigm about what youth ministry is and what it should look like? Or are you stubbornly holding on to the past, to what used to work but doesn’t anymore?
If you are, my message to you is this: it’s time to let go.
Do you agree with my view on this paradigm shift? How do you feel about this?