Today's guest blogger is Mike DeVito, veteran youth worker (he was my youth pastor!) and now the Southwest Regional Coordinator for the National Network of Youth Ministries (NNYM).
A pastor friend recently asked me to consult with his church leadership team. Needing an outsider’s opinion on a new student ministry hire, the leadership team also wanted my thoughts on where youth ministry in the U.S. is headed in general. After thirty-four years of youth ministry, this made for a unique experience to encourage and challenge a church toward a new mindset for not only student ministries, but for their entire church family.
Although I was wondering how they would respond to a more intergenerational philosophy, the leadership team seemed very open. As the meeting went on, we all felt the excitement build as we pictured a healthier church, connecting all the generations.
They were intrigued with the 5 on 1 approach to mentor their students, meaning each student would have 5 adults who cared about them. The leadership team recognized that some of the 5 influencers in the lives of their teenagers wouldn’t be from the church. Many would be found in schools with teachers, coaches; even a boss in their workplaces. And they wanted to affirm these influencers.
An “aha!” moment became obvious as they considered who they wanted to hire for a student ministries pastor. They now wanted someone who would not only pastor students and their parents, but someone to connect with all the generations. They began to visualize this pastor engaged in ongoing conversations with other ministry departments, together creating “rites of passage” that would celebrate the many transitions happening in the lives of their youth.
This different mindset for youth ministry addresses the transition questions for graduating seniors and would help build a sticky faith in the lives of their students. I loved being a part of the conversation!