Joseph Project – Intro

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a delightful few days with some great youth ministry minds at a Thinktank sponsored by the Lilly Endowment, hosted by the Center for Youth Ministry Training (  We got the chance to talk and dream and scheme about the future of youth ministry and the most significant issues on the horizon.

Though we knocked around over a dozen seismic ideas, the most provocative idea for me came in this question:

Are we getting better and better are preparing more and more people for vocations which will be less and less a part of churches in the next two or three decades? 

Here’s the basis for the question:

  • We know that the younger generation of disciples (at least in America) tend to have much less enthusiasm for investing in the institution of the church than did their parents or their grandparents.  Though young Christian adults may be generous, they tend to give more of their tithe to causes and less to their churches.
  • We know that, therefore, it is likely that it will require multiple young adults in the church to equal the given of the typical 60+ year-old church member, a group of folks who will not be around in droves in 20 or 30 years.
  • It seems not unlikely that churches will have less margin to hire full time youth pastors…unless we do something to prepare for this eventuality.

Is it possible that we can get ahead of the coming “famine”?  I’d like to propose that we start thinking of what a “Joseph Project” might look like, accessing the years we do have to ensure provision for youth ministry when the famine comes.

In my next blog, I’ll do a little noodling on what this might look like.

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