I admit that I struggle with the apparent attitude of some within current youth ministry that touts the idea that older people have nothing to say that is relevant or pertinent for today. We live in a culture of immediate and now – with “On Demand” movies and “Real Time” updates in 4G connection speeds on our cell phones. A recent smart phone commercial put it this way, “That is so 27 seconds ago.”
And, undoubtedly, you’ve heard the old quotation, “Ours is the only generation in history that stands in front of a microwave oven and says, ‘Come on. Hurry up!’”
Maybe it’s time to listen to the experts, and not just the people currently embroiled in the contest, but the voices of people who have coached others. Maybe we should all heed the counsel of our youth ministry forefathers.
So, in that vein, I “recruited” a team of commentators to give my readers some of their observations about the current state of youth ministry. Through the magic of the internet, my research revealed some lasting advice for today’s youth workers from the voices of yesterday. These legends are now long gone, but perhaps their wisdom is lasting and effective for today’s student ministry as well.
1. Make much of evangelism.
Jack Wyrtzen, one of my heroes of youth ministry and the founder of Word Of Life, used to say, “I believe it is the responsibility of every generation to reach their generation for Christ.”
2. Base your ministry on a Biblical philosophy.
Frank Hamrick, the founder of Positive Action for Christ, would say, “Good enough is never good enough.”
3. Be complete & creative in your communication of Scripture.
It has been oft-reported that Jim Rayburn, the founder of Young Life, was famous for saying, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel.”
“We are going as fast as we can, living life at a dizzying speed, and God is nowhere to be found. We're not rejecting God; we just don't have time for him,” said Mike Yaconelli, the co-founder of Youth Specialties.
5.Be committed to youth ministry over the long-haul.
I’m not long gone, but I’ll add my own voice to this mix. Mel Walker, the co-founder of Vision For Youth would often close his personal correspondence by writing this phrase, “committed to impacting the next generation.”
My line-up of “color commentators” doesn’t stack up to the likes of Dickie-V, Digger, or Coach Knight. But, I still think that Jack, Frank, Jim, and Mike may have something to say about today’s youth ministry. Let’s not put the old guys out to pasture too quickly. Their counsel may be exactly what today’s youth workers need.