Wow. . . there has been some discussion on this issue of what is the future of student ministry ever since Christian Smith's revealing book of the spirituality of teens in Soul Searching. Since I have been involved in student ministry for 17 years and 13 at my current church, I am some what interested in this discussion. This fall we are making some changes in our ministry on Wednesday nights for families with children (grades 1-6) and with our high school students. Here is an early post by Doug that explains these changes. Most of the changes have been received well, and Doug and I are thankful. However, there have been some mixed reviews and emotions about what we are doing with high school students which is to empower and equip them to serve on Wednesdays instead of having their own "worship" time. Leadership Journal's summer issue was about "How churches are integrating an isolated generation." I would highly recommend those who are in church leadership to pick up a copy, it has some good articles on this discussion of student ministry. One in particular is Kara Powell's interview. She is the executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary. In her interview titled "Is the Era of Age Segregation Over?", I found the answer to this question helpful:
What can churches do to increase the likelihood that our kids stay in church after they graduate?
"I think the future of youth ministry is intergenerational youth ministry. At this point in our research, we've found that one thing churches can do that really makes a difference is getting kids actively involved in the life of the church before they graduate. There is a strong link between kids staying in church after they graduate and their involvement in intergenerational relationships and worship. It's important to, we're finding, to get beyond a token youth Sunday and start thinking about how to involve kids. . ."
This article was a good reminder for me as we are on the brink of some major changes here (which even as a leader I am a little nervous about), that we are moving in a good direction for the health of our families, students and the church.