A short but interesting post at the BolgBlog suggests that the future for youth ministers may be bleak, at least in the emergent church movement where the emphasis is on integrating youth holistically into the full life of the Church rather than segregating them because of their age. With this approach, there is no longer a need for a particular person on the church staff to care for the youth. Rather, their care and nuture becomes a ministry of the whole church.
There is much I admire about the emergent church movement (and much I don't) but on this point I see great merit (and I say that as one who has made a career of being a "youth minister"). For years I've thought we are doing great harm to the church by segregating youth off to their own space and their own programs and worship services...and with their own minister. We treat them as "Christians-to-be" rather than full participants in the life of the Church today. In my own denomination, the Disciples of Christ, we typically baptize and bring into membership children as young as 10 or 11. Yet, no one would even think of letting one of these children sit on the church board or help make important decisions in the church. So, we'll let a child make the most important (faith) decision of their life, but we don't think they are capable of helping the church spend its money or decide what color to paint the fellowship hall?