"Who would have thought with all the dire predictions making the rounds during the first decade of the 2000's that youth ministry would still be going strong in the year 2059? Yet here we are -- looking a little different, perhaps -- but still here. What a difference a few decades make. I doubt many of those youth ministers from the early part of this century (remember the short-lived iphone fad of the early 2000's?) would recognize the youth ministry of today. Just think of some of the changes that have taken place:
We stopped giving youth just what they wanted (pizza! crowds! video games! paintball!) and started giving them more of what they needed (and helped them to see why they needed it.)
We realized youth didn't need "bigger and better" (mission trips to more and more exotic locations, huge evangelism events in football stadiums, louder and louder rock concerts) -- they needed smaller, more meaningful experiences that allowed them to experience God's love in the midst of daily life.
We came to understand that our youth didn't need entertainment -- they needed engagement -- engagement in the Church's work of peace and justice.
It finally dawned on us that they didn't need more pop culture (no more helping the consumer culture in its seduction of our youth) -- they needed timeless truths that help them live the way of Jesus.
We figured out that they didn't need hype -- they needed sabbath rest.
We discovered that our teens didn't really just need charming, young, good-looking, sporty, charismatic leaders -- they need caring, mature, companions in faith. Today that still includes seminary-educated pastors (though not as many as 50 years ago and most of them are now bivocational and have a lot more training in educational theory and adolescent development), as well as lay leaders who bring a whole host of life and career experiences to the ministry.
Perhaps most surprisingly, our churches figured out that "giving youth their own space/place in the Church" didn't need to mean "separate spaces and places" but just room to grow and learn and minister alongside of everyone else in the Church. In fact, now we hardly spend anytime at all in the church building itself. Our youth ministry is happening out in the world, in the neighborhoods, at school, in the homeless shelters, the nursing homes, the community gardens, the protest rallies, and wherever there is need to hear the transforming message of the gospel."