« Days 3 & 4 What is the Emerging Church? | Main | Church as Mall: Days 5-10 in Emerging Churches Class »

February 13, 2006




I'd love to chat with you about integration of youth with the congregation.

email me if you are interested.


As a youth pastor of 15 years but now an 'all age pastor' I think that Ryan is probably right for now because many emerging churches are smaller and generally younger. But in time the pendulum may swing back the other way!

This does raise some big 'duty of care issues'.

Chad Johnson

For starters, I am not a mega church youth pastor. I think this is a lead-in to another discussion. I think some of the most creative people to help lead in the Emerging church are seasoned youth pastors. In theory, many are still fresh and not locked in to the IC mold. Many have a healthy dose of understanding what is and what isn't working. Many have a healthy mixture of frustration, seeking for more, looking for what really matters, determining what really counts, etc. I know a lot of IC youth pastors that participate in the Emerging Conversation not because of a book or a conference, but because it is actually where their life and ministry has brought them. There are a lot of sharp minds and spirits in youth ministry in mega churches. I think the reason most of them do not completely cross over into the Emergent flow has more to do with the paycheck than what is in their heart. Some may think this is hypocritical, but I think they are in process. The reality is, a lot of these leaders also have a mortgage and car payments and food to put on the table just like everyone else. The very nature of Emergent church values and how leadership is expressed does indeed do away with the traditional youth pastor job. I think IC/MC youth pastors are a good bridge for both sides of the discussion and I think a lot of very solid Emerging voices will come out of this background. Didn't most of the voices in the Emerging church come out of asking similar questions in similar church ministry scenarios?Many youth pastors just don't quite know how to make all of this fit together. There are still the faces that stare at them every week looking for something real that would be without a sheperd. I think some thought into helping youth pastors make the jump would be a good discussion.


By hiring professionals to care for our kids we've unintentionally encouraged parents to abdicate their responsibility. This is unfortunate since parents are primarily held accountable by God for their kid's souls.

I'm thankful for the family of God and recognize our need for healthy cross-pollination. My concern is that this ongoing neglect to equip parents has resulted in youth ministries which focus a disproportionate amount of time and resources on putting out fires. We're forced to take a defensive posture because we're afraid, unwilling, or unable to properly engage the parents of the upcoming generation.



While I agree that the parental role toward the spiritual nurture of adolescents is wained the past 100-150 years, I would suggest that there are other theological positions regarding who will be "held primarily responsible" for them. Often this position is reactive to a the breakdown of the nuclear family, which sets up the family as an idol. This position is a product of American Invidualism as much as taking the Shema seriously. So I'd say bravo on seeing this issue. Bravo for wanting to do more in supporting parents in their ongoing ministry to their teens. Most churches are not doing this, most youth pastors are not doing this. But this solution will not fix the problem you are trying to repair. There is far more to it than that.


Any church that makes Godly parenting a major priority is thinking long-term. Future generations will benefit greatly. Ministry to parents isn't sexy but it's absolutely essential. Hiring a youth pastor is much easier than trying to strategically plan how to help youth grow into maturity at home. Maybe we're afraid to call parents on the carpet. Maybe we just don't want to deal with the hassle. Let's just send Johnny to camp with the youth group.

Youth ministry has a place in the body of Christ. But because parenets aren't doing there jobs YPs are forced into a position of primary influence God never intended.

I don't think better parenting will solve all youth-related problems. I'm not naive. But it would solve most. It would help extinguish fires that consume much of the church's time and resources. I think the independant mindset you mention is the very thing that keeps parent ministry from happening. Parents don't want to be told what to do with their kids. Pastors don't want to be put in that awkward position. Meanwhile our children continue to suffer for our lack of resolve. God help us.



I appreciate your passion for this issue and I agree that parents play a key role in the ministry of their own teens. But theologically it's a fine line to walk to put even a majority of the solution exclusivly upon the shoulders of parents. Would the world be a better place if parent's didn't expect someone else to care for a significant portion of the spiritual nurture of their kids? Sure it would. But it doesn't solve the problem. There is more to it than that. I hope you hear me supporting your thoughts here... I'm only hoping to expand them.

First. The church appears to have lost it's understanding of community. The gospel exists within community, not simply the family. Ministry to teens has never simply been about two people (parents) in the lives of a child. It is far more than this.

Second. We have good traditions within the mainline church and great intentions within our evangelical church, but out system and structure do not support what we are trying to accomplish.

Third. Youth Ministry was the product of several good intended solutions to a growing problem. It was the churches response to orphans (who didn't have parents) and adolescence. (these are just two reasons) Youth ministry stepped into the gap to fix these issues... but that solution has become the churches current problem and as you mentioned often enables parents in unintentional ways. The Parent solution is only a bandaid and will has often unintended consequences. (some of which are not positive)

Four. Youth Ministry will have a place in the future of the emerging church. There is no getting around it. Now, I've declared the death of youth ministry at various conferences etc... but youth ministry will be with us whether parents "take responsibility" for the teens or not. The perceived gap between adults and teens is too great. There needs to be someone full time who bridges these gaps of perception. By the way... Childrens ministry is next. Tweenager (8-12 year olds) will be the next kids adults start to question connection with.

Fifth. The answer is not better parenting, the answer is a better church.

So. Godly parenting a great. No doubt about it. But it's not the answer to the problems we are facing in the church. It's AN answer, or part of the response, but not even close to the whole thing.

But then again... it will depend on your theology...



Thank you for your thoughts. And thanks for letting me "unload" some of mine on your blog. I'm probably more of a youth ministry supporter than you would imagine. I appreciate the diverse giftings of the body of Christ.

The idea of community is beautiful to me. I love the endless possibilities for discipleship and edification that age integration and cross-pollination offer. For instance, lately I've been trying to build friendships with Christians in my city who don't go to my church.

Your comments regarding theology are valid. A primary difference we share might center around youth, parents and spiritual authority. Who's in charge and why? Different theological views on this topic and others are going to frame many different youth ministry philosophies. One thing I hope we all agree on is the fact that major reformation is necessary on this vital topic. Our teens deserve our prayerful, thoughtful, and imaginative best.


I disagee with you. There is and will always bee a need for someone to pastor youth. Sure in the perfect world that is "emergent" maybe we dont need youth pastors. But this will require the church to be more active as a whole in the lives of teens. This has never happned, so what makes you think it will change now?


Wow, what a conversation -- thanks Patrick, Riddle, and Mark for keeping this thing going --

As is evident here, this conversation is part of a bigger discussion on what does the church look like, does anyone get paid, what is the role of clergy, etc.

My observations stemmed from what I've seen in Emerging Churches in our current context...


i will like to be one of the people that wil take part in the youyht confernce coming soon

Sammy Rangi

Am ready to work as a Youth pastor.Am Rev Sammy Rangi

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Hi, welcome to my former blog! My name is Ryan Bolger, and this is where I posted my thoughts on Jesus, culture, new forms of community, among other things. Come visit me at my new blog: http://www.ryanbolger.com. I still teach at Fuller Seminary in Southern California where I'm doing some writing as well. Feel free to bounce around the new or old website -- I hope it might stir your imagination -- feel free to stir mine as well by leaving some comments, preferably at the new site... Peace...


  • www.flickr.com
    thebolgblog's photos More of thebolgblog's photos

Fuller Seminary

Current Classes

Upcoming Events

Recent Events




Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 05/2005