I couldn't let the start of the new year come and go without offering up some predictions for what I expect or hope to see in the field of youth ministry in the coming year. I'll let each of you judge which of these are sincere and which are tongue-in-cheek.
In the year 2008, I predict the following will happen:
1) The venerable youth ministry game "Chubby Bunny," discontinued in recent years when it was discovered to be a choking hazard, will enjoy a new resurgence when the folks at Youth Specialities and Simply Youth Ministry simultaneously release Wii video game versions of this old favorite, called "Chub-BUN Turbo 08" and "Chubby Chubby Bunny Revolution." The popularity of these new versions of "Chubby Bunny" at youth group events will renew the blogosphere debate on the appropriateness of video games at youth group gatherings.
2) Youth ministers, discovering that students are growing bored with online social networks like FaceBook and MySpace will try a radical new approach to stay in personal contact with their youth: composing weekly handwritten letters and postcards and sending them via snail mail.
3) Youth ministry will experience a new-found interest in moving beyond denominational boundaries as more and more youth groups develop cooperative relationships with ecumenical partners. This move will be particularly enticing to youth who no longer define themselves by denominational labels.
4) The introduction of ancient Christian spiritual practices within youth group activities will continue to grow as ministers break loose of the old paradigm that equates youth ministry with programs, activities, and entertainment and seek more opportunities for contemplation, meditation, introspection, and silence.
5) The ubiquitous phrase "on fire for Jesus," oft-used at big tent evangelism events in youth ministry circles, will be replaced by the phrases "Jesus is my home skillet," and "Off the Chain with JC."
6) The visual arts will make a resurgence in youth ministry as more leaders provide opportunities for youth to explore spirituality by tapping into their creativity abilities. Group painting, doodled prayers, murals, play dough, crayons, and fingerpaints will replace basketballs and duct tape as the top items in any good youth minister's bag of tricks.
7) Youth ministries, responding to recent surveys that show young Christian adults leaving the church in increasing numbers, will let loose of the teen-centric model of youth ministry and begin to seek more and more creative ways to integrate youth into the total life of the local church. Adult church-goers will initially react against this move but will come to see it as a way to invigorate the post-modern Church.
8) Candlelight will replace PowerPoint presentations and quiet repetitive chants with guitar music will replace loud alternative Christian bands at youth ministry events.
9) Lock-ins will become a thing of the past as it is discovered that they shorten a youth minister's life expectancy by 3 months for every lock-in s/he attends.
10) Taking a cue from their more evangelical brethren, moderate and progressive mainline churches will begin seeking leaders for their youth ministry programs who actually have training in youth ministry and see it as a calling. As a result, more seminary students who used to take these positions will find themselves spending increased time at church board meetings and picking up bulletins after Sunday services.
What predictions would you add?