Over the last few months the contours of the Joseph Project have begun to take shape: Coaching men and women with hearts for ministry to build economic engines to support their current and future work for Christ.
There is little doubt that there will be a need for a new kind of youth pastor in the coming decades. I’m imagining that today’s “normal” youth pastor supported entirely by an individual church will become decreasingly normal, as church budgets shrink and the cost of living rises.
Some youth pastors will learn to be fund-raisers, joining the bourgeoning crowd of non-profits and missionaries competing for the same pot of charitable dollars. Others will be part of the fortunate few who will be able to land a job in ministry with full salary and benefits. But unless we do something, most, I fear, will choose to drop out of the vocation of ministry all together.
If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance that you, like me, believe that this work we get to do in youth ministry is crucial, not only to the future of “the church” in our country and the future of our larger culture but more importantly for the future of the 75 million or so kids under 18 in the US.
I can’t help but think of the demise of the church in Europe and wonder what might have happened if a well-equipped sustainable army of youth pastors had been at work 50 or 100 years ago.
The good news is that our educational institutions are doing better than ever at equipping people for youth ministry. The bad news is that they may be preparing youth workers in exceptional ways for jobs that may not exist (or at least exist in much fewer numbers) in the ecclesial landscape that we might anticipate a few decades from now.
And so, looking ahead 20 years or so, we’re launching the Joseph Project and beginning to work with a few hungry youth pastors who long to stay in this game for decades and helping them slowly launch sustainable businesses. Seems like Jesus said something about building a tower and figuring out how much it would cost before starting to build.
A couple weeks ago a ran a marathon with a very specific strategy…start out slow and taper off from there. 5 hours and 45 minutes later I scampered across the finish line (okay, maybe “scamper” would not be the first verb that came to people’s minds as they saw my final 50 yards).
We’re launching the Joseph Project the same way…nice and slow. Scamper with me?
P.S. One of the ways we are working on missional entrepreneurship is with a Hatch-a-thon at Princeton Theological Seminary.