This past weekend, Jamie, Marco and I were at the Fritzlar Bible College which hosted a meeting for the youth workers in Germany. These are the young people (between ages 17-31) that are working with youth groups and interested in youth ministry. I was the featured speaker and the sessions dealt with different approaches to youth ministry. The goal was to give the youth workers three different approaches and many concrete ideas for making their youth programs more effective.
We were very happy with the turn-out. There were about 40 people who came to hear the sessions and they seemed to be very pleased with the practicality of the material. The young people came from every section of Germany which was great. They are a wonderful group of people and we had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. The kids were so sweet. My main interpreter Sarina, baked Marco a birthday cake and they presented him with a gift---which he loved!
The session happened to begin on Marco's birthday. Ordinarily we would never schedule a work event on Marco's birthday. But we felt that this opportunity was too important. Instead, we celebrated a day early and tried to celebrate the whole weekend. So thank you Marco for being so willing to share your birthday. He actually had a great time in Fritzlar. He really likes it there anyway.
Throughout our region, many places are struggling with how to engage youth and what approach to take. In most places that I visited in the Mosaic tour, the young people have mostly dis-engaged from the church. The rare exceptions were in countries with large populations of youth and low life expectancy rates. In most places, the numbers are dwindling rapidly. And even if the numbers of youth remain high, they do not transition into ministry and the rate of church attendance drops off dramatically after they become adults. So this is very much a crisis in much of our region and in most places around the CHOG world. In some countries where there were many youths attending church, they often migrated away from the Church of God to Pentecostal movements that were much more willing to utilize and empower young people in church work.
Navigating youth ministry--especially in the Western Traditional/Post-Christendom setting is not easy. As youth guru Chap Clark has said, most churches are operating in models from 30 years ago. And today's world is creating generational divides that are more complex and extreme than in the past. Furthermore, theres no "one-size-fits-all" model that a church can pick that will automatically work. That's why we present a broad variety of approaches.
These sessions we presented will be available as a Three Worlds Seminar in the future, so we will offer it to countries in our region that want to do a closer examination of youth ministry issues.
A special thanks to Sarina, Sabine, and Amy who did the interpreting---although most of these cheeky German kids speak perfect English.