The Edge! The Blaze! The Surge! The Core! Remember the good old days when we just called it "youth group?" Seems like every youth ministry now has to have some name that assures interested teens that "our group isn't boring!" (e.g. We're "On Fire!" We are living on "The Edge!") And often these names are clever acronyms for an even longer name (S.T.I.N.C. - Soulful Teens In Christ...or something like that). And having a cool name generally leads to having a cool logo, which leads to having cool shirts emblazoned with the logo and a cool website...and maybe even mugs, hats, boxers, and mouse pads. All in an effort to brand the youth ministry and to give it a distinctive identity. Which, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, I guess. It's certainly very in keeping with the corporate world we live in where teens can you tell you by heart the slogan for just about every product out there (Just do it! Have it your way! Think Outside the Bun!)
But it makes me wonder....With the growing consensus amongst youth ministers that we've done a pretty good job of isolating youth from the wider church, doesn't branding of a youth ministry just add to this problem? Why create an identity for your ministry that is separate and distinct from the identity of your church? What is wrong with calling yourselves "the youth ministry of First Church" (or whatever your church's name happens to be)? Why not spend more time helping youth feel a part of the wider church community of which you are a part, rather than creating a niche identity that the teens may not even associate with the sponsoring congregation?