The Voices of Youth Ministry

I’ve been wondering about something. I’m wondering who will be the new voices of Youth Ministry?

20 years ago, the YM pond was only so big. There were certain names you came to know; Rice, Yac, Burns, Campolo, Robbins, and Fields just to think of a few. These voices have shaped what youth ministry is today. Publishing companies like Youth Specialties and Group gave us the resources and tools to help us entertain, teaching, shock, surprise, and understand the teenagers we loved.

But it seems to me that the landscape is changing. Where once the annual convention was the epicenter of knowledge, training and ideas, the internet has opened an extremely wide door allowing an ocean of opinions to flood the cramped youth pastor’s office. Websites, blogs, facebook pages, podcasts, vlogs, and self-published books are massing. Everyone and anyone with an idea, thought, or opinion can now express their “wisdom” for all the world to see, read, or hear.

Suddenly the pond we used to wade in has become a sea and we’re treading water trying to keep our heads above the waves.

I’m not saying it’s bad, but is it good? Is it helpful? Is it Kingdom building? Or is it ego building? Is it instructive? Or is it time consuming? Who has something to say worth reading, and who just wants to talk? Who is in it for the ministry, and who is in it for the glory?

I think there’s a danger in all of this, if we’re not careful. The danger comes if and when, we spend more time reading and/or writing about relationships and ministry than actually building relationships and doing ministry. We can get lost reading blog after blog after blog of how to build and “big” youth group and never get out to meet the kids “in” our youth group. With all the talk, who is rising to the surface as the next voice of wisdom?

I mean, we need those who can share, teach, encourage, and train. But do we need all of them?

Who will be the next voices to help shape the youth ministry culture as we head into the next year, five years, ten years? Who has something worth hearing? Who has the insight worth sharing? It should go beyond the blogs, the book deals, the speaking circuits, the podcasts. Who will be the ones God calls to lead, train, encourage, equip, and engage the youth workers of tomorrow?

What do you think? Are there too many voices? Who’s worth reading? Who has something useful? Who will challenge and push us?

Share the blogs, podcasts, speakers and writers that are beginning to reshape the youth ministry world. Let’s beginning thinning out the noise and start finding the voices that will define our careers and calling for the next 20 years. Type your suggestions, recommendations, and resources that you believe are above the noise. No self promotion. After all, it’s not about us, right?

– jay

5 thoughts on “The Voices of Youth Ministry

  1. Jay, does this mean you’re going to delete your blog? Ha ha, just kidding. I think there’s room for lots of voices – it just requires a little ‘sifting’ to see who God is using to speak to you situation. But I agree, we probably need to spend more time with students, than reading about students. Good post.


  2. i have been wondering the exact same thing. the added voices is a bit overwhelming, but i think there are starting to be and will continue to be organizations and websites that consolidate the best of the best blogs out there.

    but at the end of the day, whether it was les christie, doug fields, or you. at the end of the day it is about building relationships. no trick to that!

    thanks for all your writing and keep rising to the surface of the crazy amount of blogs out there!




  3. Great reminder Jay. I left blogging a few years back because of this very thing. Tons of theology and rhetoric being thrown around left and right. Ideas galore but few of those writing actually had a ministry or practical philosophy that reflected what they were instructing others to.

    I didn’t want to be that ‘guy’ so I walked away. It wasn’t until recently that I felt God fire up in me the desire to share some new thoughts and challenge folks from where they are. Also providing examples of what our ministry is doing and how others can get take those ideas and make them their own.

    The voice that needs to be heard is the voice echoing that of God and his kingdom. I prefer to hear people who are teaching what God taught… I’m not looking for a new leadership model, or new game to get ‘on fire’ for Jesus…


  4. Jay- Great thoughts. I was blogging last night and I asked myself why I was doing it. I try to focus as much I can on resources and tools that are helpful without making it about myself unless I’m sharing about my failures. I like discovering new voices and reading great thoughts. Just dumped your feed into Google Reader. One thing I love is that so many young and unknown folks are getting the opportunity to interact. I agree that content will ultimately dictate value. Those who provide great things for us to think about and dialogue with will be the voices we look to.

    Great thoughts.


  5. I’m wondering if there will be a next big voice in youth ministry. Rather, the internet has opened up the field to a variety of amazing voices many from small ministries – youth pastors who don’t have access to a large audience, church facility or budget but who can be heard via blogs and other social media. The field is much more egalitarian now and I think we will be all the better for it.


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