What’s the largest youth ministry in the world?

Kara Powell

No, not some U.S. megachurch, or some fast growing church in Korea.  According to Mark Maines, one of FYI’s Advisory Council members and now a Marine Corps chaplain, it’s the U.S. military.  And the needs there are great.

Last week, Mark sent FYI this interesting article about the experience of Marines who are deployed.  This article well describes the way they feel isolated from the rest of the world but hyper-connected to those with whom they serve.

While our Sticky Faith research was on college students, and while certainly the issues confronting service members are different than college students, it’s been interesting to talk to Mark about the relevance of Sticky Faith to military families and military ministry.  In many ways, the military is like the college experience on steroids:

  • Young adults are even more separated from your family.
  • They feel even more distant from “life back home”.
  • There are far fewer vocational Christian ministers nearby (military chaplains are phenomenal but have far more service members to care for than the typical college pastor or parachurch leader).
  • Their life and death experiences, whether they be direct or vicarious (e.g., someone they know is killed or injured), increase the existential questions about life and God.
  • Reminders of tangible care (i.e., care packages, letters) are even more meaningful.

I was personally really helped by Mark’s recent FYI E-Journal article about how to support service members and their families.  If you haven’t read it, please check it out.  And spend the next 3 minutes e-mailing someone you know in the military, letting them know you’re proud of their service to our country and you are praying for them.


Published Sep 29, 2011
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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