When I went into vocational ministry, I started as a youth pastor. I have always been interested in youth ministry, as it was in my mid-teens that I left the church. Would things have been different if there had been an effective youth ministry in my church? One of the things that I have noticed in the last decade of church ministry is a shift in attitude toward youth ministry. Fifteen or twenty years ago, it was hoped that if there was an entertaining enough youth program that those teens would transition into committed adults. Those hopes have not always been realized.
I recently read a book that looks at the current state of youth ministry. The book is Youth Ministry: Now and Not Yet by Matt Wilkinson. Matt is the Director of Youth Ministry for the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec, the denomination with which I am ordained with. This book contains research that was done with the CBOQ, but the results are such that would be helpful for every denomination. Matt writes from both the data resulting from a survey as well as years of youth experience. The book is written in an engaging style and reflects his passion for youth ministry. Matt argues for a more integrated youth ministry and not just a lone range youth pastor doing their own thing. In fact, each chapter concludes with a take away for the parents, senior pastor, church member and youth leader. If you are involved in youth ministry or if you are concerned about the teens in your church, I would encourage you to read this book. For more information, go to the web-site for this book.