Youth should not be set apart, but rather integrated into the life of a congregation through friendship.
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As Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out long ago, youth ministry isn't about setting aside a special place for young people in the church but about moving them into the center of the church community, says a youth ministry scholar and author.
Notre Dame Vision youth academy has 1,400 teenage participants but what really sets it apart are the undergraduates who serve as 'mentors in faith' -- role models of a life of faith in progress.
While mainline churches were looking the other way, marginalized youth ministries became laboratories of disruptive innovation. Fortunately, hand-wringing despair is not the only option.
Youth from Clemson UMC take part in some typical activities, such as beach trips. But the focus of the church's youth formation is to invite them to see themselves as part of the narrative of God’s redemptive work in creation. Photo courtesy of Clemson UMC
In South Carolina, Clemson UMC has changed its approach to youth ministry, adopting a richer, deeper model aimed at forming young people into devoted disciples.
Youth ministry isn’t about helping young people create a successful future but about standing with them, waiting for the fullness of God’s action. A youth ministry scholar and author of "The Relational Pastor" reflects on Advent, eschatology and young people.