Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Missional Youth Ministry...At A Glance

    Preparing for a recent presentation on our book, Missional Youth Ministry, I attempted to redesign a simple visual way to compare the earlier youth ministry paradigm known as "attractional youth ministry" and the emerging paradigm many would label "missional youth ministry" (you can click on the image above to see a larger version).  Though I resist suggesting these two views of ministry are in complete opposition to one another, I find it helpful to set them side-by-side to point out the differences.  In summary:

    Attractional Youth Ministry
    • The weekly meeting/worship service is the focus.
    • Marketing is used to bring participants into that meeting.
    • Evangelism is focused on making participants into members of the group/church.
    • Programming (Bible study, mission, fellowship, worship) is all designed to draw or attract participants into that weekly meeting and church membership.
    • Most of the work is done by professional or paid ministry staff.
    Missional Youth Ministry

    • The mission of the Church (big "C") is the focus.
    • Participants are sent out to embody that mission in the world.
    • Evangelism is primarily about living out and telling the good news.
    • Ministry, rather than programming, makes up the bulk of the activity. All activity (study, mission, fellowship, worship) is seen through the lens of "What is our mission?"
    • Strong emphasis on the priesthood of all believers -- empowering youth to find their own call within the ministry of the Church and to live it out in their daily lives. 
    Certainly there is overlap between the two models, but the greatest distinction is that one is more inwardly focused toward the Church as institution and the other more outwardly focused toward our call to ministry in our own daily context.  Your thoughts?  How might you change or tweak this model?  What is missing?  Does this connect with or push back against your understand of "missional?"


    Adam McLane said...

    This is good stuff, love that diagram. We should ideate together... I've got a whole bunch of drawing like that!

    Brian Kirk said...

    Love to "ideate" with you, Adam. As I said, that diagram is a work in progress as I continue to think out what this word "missional" means to all of us.

    mcdaniel clan said...

    Where in the "missional" model does intentional discipleship and Bible Study take place? I recently ran across a critique of the missional movement that basically claimed discipleship has been replaced by "doing" kingdom work. In other words, learning about what it means to BE a person of God has been replaced by DOING. Does that make sense? What would you say to that?

    kolby said...

    Love the post. I find your graph challenging. A lot of my ministry has attractional elements, and I am trying to change it to more of a missional environment.

    Brian Kirk said...

    M.C.- Good question. Though some see the missional model about primarily "doing" mission, for me it means working to ensure that all you do in your ministry, from volunteer work to Bible study to fellowship events all are focused on and seen through the lens of our part in the mission of God. It would be hard to know what that mission is without intentional Bible study and exploration of what it means to be a disciple. And so, in this model Bible study, mission activities, fellowship and worship are revolve around the core understanding of the mission of God. Of course, the challenge can come when we don't all agree on what that mission is!

    Kolby, thanks for sharing. I don't that attractional and missional have to be mutually exclusive. But I am convinced that missional ministry, done with integrity, will be attractional to youth who find that serving others, living out Christ's radical call to practice peace and justice is far more meaningful and spiritually filling than one more night at the paintball place or one more trip to the ballpark.

    Ben Mizen said...

    I love this post... lots to mull on. The UK context is different but the desire to mission shaped in the "go" rather than Sunday Shaped in the "come" is becoming more and more relevant.

    The question I have is, who measures? What are the measures and are they any good at all?

    Calvin Park said...

    Brian, I think this is really excellent. I do wonder if there might be a way, however, to indicate on your diagram how a person who has never had exposure to Jesus might become included into the community of faith. In other words, I think we might still need some type of "inward" movement somewhere. I've recently written on my own blog about attractional youth ministry, and I really couldn't agree more with your graphical representation of it.

    A church community of young adults said...

    I'm curious, what role does intergenerational worship, serving and activity have in all of this (beyond handful of youth sponsors)? A missional model seems to have a lot of potential for intergenerational interaction.

    Shane Tarpley said...

    In reading this about the missional youth ministry I am often drawn to Oswald Chamber's The Go of Missions in his book My Utmost for His Highest. Awesome devotion that demonstrates the power of getting out and going. Youth ministries have definitely become inwardly focused... often a bit to much. It's the same as being fleshly inward focused. When we see someone begging for food, work, or money- we usually walk right past them. We think, you cant trust them. But im reminded of what John and Peter said to the begger.. Silver and Gold have I none, but such as I have i give to them..." When we start looking at opportunites as the go of ministry instead of the trust of giving... we wont impact very much. Thoughts?

    John Paul said...

    As others have already commented, I too appreciate your diagram. I know it is still a work in progress and sometimes simplicity can reduce too much; however, I think you have navigated those waters well and it offers a great entry point into the conversation.

    I would like to explore this idea of discipleship a bit further. Mcdaniel I share a deep respect and hope for "intentional discipleship". For much of my ministry I've understood this to be about, at its most reduced form, information transference. Discipleship than would look like little pupils regurgitating whatever the teachers taught. (Please note the overstatement here) All of this was of course rooted in scripture and gave way to theological understandings. I wonder though if "doing" is not also a form of discipleship. We literally say to someone lets journey this together and in doing together we are radically shaped.

    I'm assuming two things. First, we are not just doing any and everything; rather, we would begin from an inclination of God's mission in the world. Second, accountability and applying scripture to our doing would be a critical part of this. I would argue that these are not mutually exclusive and should be held in tension. Most of the students I've encountered to this point, however, have had more than enough knowledge and simply needed to start believing and living what they already know.

    Would it also be accurate to say, adding a couple more service projects a month to our programming, does not guarantee a missional youth ministry. In fact, we could become in danger of using service simply as the next "growth" model?

    Anonymous said...

    I'm curious from where you do your activities if there is no programming. The idea (not necessarily posed by you) from the missional YM movement is that if you have a "attractive" weekly meeting you are at tractional. Can't it be said that if we don't have anyone at our meetings we can't teach them to be disciples, missionaries and influencers in their community. Im sure there are some groups that only exist to feed their own numbers or church but I haven't seen one. There is a deepening that needs to happen to be sure however, the baby doesn't need to be thrown out with the proverbial bath water.