In my book, Rural Youth Ministry, I spend some time talking about the future of youth ministry in rural communities. Almost three years out from the
publishing of the book, I have seen some things transpire that show where I was right, where I was wrong, and what I didn’t see coming. No one knows the future but God, so I am not surprised for a minute that I “didn’t get it right”. I also note that three years out is still a very short view. However, it is a start to discussion of things that may need fixed in the short term.
Where I was right: The shift from “fun and games” youth ministry continues in rural areas, especially in ministries that are more highly populated with high school students. Is the reason for this cultural? Is is a desire among today’s high school students to be seen as “budding adults”? I am not entirely sure. The trend of “professional” youth workers leaving continues. Some for other ministries such as the Senior Pastorate, others to Parachurch Ministries, and still others completely leaving church life all together. Some are simply cut out of the picture for financial or political issues. The church has done little to stop the bleeding. I hate to think where this takes us in a few (or many) years
Where I was wrong: When I wrote about the trend of youth workers leaving “church life”, I was on staff full time at a church, fairly content and seemingly doing well. I had no thought of leaving that postion to work with NNYM, and work full time for an IT firm. It was not even on my radar. The changes in my life and my family’s life have been many, but I would not trade it for anything right now. There is a healthy tension between us trusting God to provide and Him blessing us beyond what we could imagine.
What I didn’t see coming: As I meet with youthworkers and churches as part of my role with NNYM, I guessed that the role of volunteer youth workers would increase in rural churches, but not to the level that I am seeing currently in the midwest.
What do you see in the future of Rural Youth Ministry? Share your thoughts in the comments area below…