Much of the content in this blog comes from Anthem, the 2015 National Youth Leadership Conference in Dallas, Texas. The ministry was led by Jeanne Mayo, Heath Adamson, Reggie Dabbs, Mark Betterson, Craig Groeschel, Christine Caine, Robert Madu, Desperation Band, and Michael, Jr. to name a few. These leaders poured into the lives of the conference with wisdom and passion.
Here is a look at the last week in Dallas. You will see several patterns: 1, The commitment that it takes for Youth Leaders to gain a voice to speak into a generation, 2, The condition of the culture teens are being raised in, 3, The constant truth needed to raise a Youth Ministry, and 4, The course and vision we must dream and plant in the heart of young people. Each of these are great goals to have in Youth Ministry. Because they are counter-culture.
Let's take a deeper look at each of these areas of Youth Leadership:
1. The commitment that it takes for Youth Leaders to gain a voice to speak into a generation...
Commitment comes in many settings. The guests at the conference were volunteers of small Youth Ministry in the rural setting, full timers of the mega-church Youth Ministry in the suburbs, multi-cultural leaders of Youth Ministry in the urban setting, and a full range of Youth Ministry beside these. By the time they left Dallas for regions all over America, they had been inspired, connected, resourced, and instructed by Youth Ministry and leadership professionals. And each of them were asked to lead a significant impact on American youth culture.
The hunger of the crowd was impressive. From the main sessions to the breakout sessions, there was unity, teachable-ness, and commitment. Every Youth Leader must work on their sweet spot and make it a strength. The voice that will lead this generation must be ready to excel in the area of personal and professional commitment.
Key concepts: Leadership development, resourcing, core competencies
2. The condition of the culture teens are being raised in must be countered...
The commitment takes ongoing training to understand the complex setting of youth today in the U.S. I have often said that YP's should be the greatest Sociologists on the planet. Understanding the times and knowing what to do. It's not about a small ministry or a large one. It's not about the rural or the urban setting. It is about creating culture and an ethos wherever you are. Leaders who live Christianity and create a counter-culture.
The commitment to success in Youth Ministry is like a 'Domino Affect' that begins with a 2 inch Domino and ends with a massive falling of culture. With a few 'small' things we then see a massive destruction of values. The sexual revolution, drug and alcohol abuse, the break-up of the family, and social media out of control have all added to the dysfunction in youth culture in some way.
Key concepts: Sociology, discernment, culture
3. The constancy of truth needed for a nation in moral peril...
A commitment to biblical Truth is essential to raising The American Christian Teenager. To counter the decaying moral fiber in our land and to meet the dragon in our culture with Truth. We cannot go light on scripture. You are not the first person in history to question the authority of Scripture. The Bible stood the test of 1st Century critics too. If we keep exchanging Scriptural Truth for Cultural Lies, we will end up a society that is further away from absolutes and orthodoxy.
Successful Youth Ministry is not about Bodies and Bucks. It is more about the Presence of Christ in theology and culture. And Obedience to Christ in culture. And Integrity in a world with little of it.
Key concepts: Preaching, doctrine, small groups
4. The course and vision we must set to gain our affect upon this generation...
One of the characteristics of this generation is that they are visionary. They are dreamers. And they really want to be ideal and do something significant. If we are going to take advantage of that generational trait, we must be visionary leaders. Lyle Schaller, who many agree was the most influential church growth consultant of our day before his death a month ago, was speaking with Pastor Craig Groeschel about vision. As Groeschel was preparing to expand to 8 services in their church to accommodate the growth, Schaller told him,
"That's the problem with young preachers. You think too small."If you look at recent church history and revival, this is the only generation that is living to not see an awakening. Their grandparents have seen one, their parents have seen one, and even their older brothers and sisters have seen one. This demands that we take our responsibility as Youth Leaders to equip them to lead the next great awakening.