A month or so ago in my blog, I suggested that it may be time for us to begin preparing for a youth ministry “famine” that is likely to take place 20 years or so down the road. I’m not predicting that this will be a famine in the quality of programming or the importance placed on youth ministry, or even a famine in the number of well-trained youth pastors.
I’m suggesting that, given our current economic trajectory and the low levels of enthusiasm in younger generations when it comes to giving to institutions (like the church), there is a good chance there will be less resources available to hire full-time youth pastors 20 years from now than there is today.
If I’m wrong, I’ll sing the Doxology and be thrilled about the fact that we’ll have far more youth pastors are in place than expected. If there’s even a strong possibility I’m right, though, we might be better served to consider the possibility of developing a whole different kind of youth pastor.
So I offer here a few provocative theses around the Joseph Project so far…
–What if every youth pastor was not only equipped to do youth ministry, but as a required part of his or her training, was equipped to be an entrepreneur? My experience is that, since much youth ministry requires entrepreneurial skills anyway, this could be a more natural fit than we might think.
–What if the typical youth pastor could be coached in to developing his or her own “company,” designed to generate income that didn’t just trade time for money but held the hope of producing more income for less time 10 years down the road? Could this not have the effect of extending the ministry tenure of many (if not most) youth pastors, providing long-term youth pastors for churches who would not otherwise have been able to support someone with significant youth ministry experience?
–And if we could find a way to make this kind of model work here in the expensive North American context, how might it be simplified and adapted for “youth pastors” in places like Rwanda and Uganda? I’ve got hopes of trying out a few experiments in those countries in the next year. I’ll keep you posted.