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Focusing Youth Ministry Through the Family

One of the books I'm reading right now, Starting Right: Thinking Theologically about Youth Ministry is a collection of essays on various topics from a variety of authors.  The article I read today was entitled, "Focusing Youth Ministry Through the Family" and was written by Mark DeVries.  I had read this article as part of my Foundations of Youth Ministry class that I took my middler year, and remember being disappointed with the ending of the article.  Today I remembered why.  

DeVries does a great job in the first part of the article of laying out the problem of turning youth ministry into a "ghetto".  After all, regardless of how strong a ministry is, the number 1 indicator of whether a student will remain active in the faith community is the involvement of the parents.  DeVries argues that youth ministry has set students up for failure by isolating them away from adults, specifically their parents.  All of this I agree with in full.  Devries then offers the following definition of family-based youth ministry:

"Using the position of the youth ministry to access, empower, and connect students to the most effective sources of faith formation, namely the nuclear family and the extended family of the church" (Starting Right: Thinking Theologically About Youth Ministry, Pg. 150)

DeVries then points out that one doesn't need to adopt a "family-based" approach as opposed to a "Purpose-driven" or a "Logos" model – family-based can be integrated right into those existing models.  DeVries then makes the following suggestion – try a family-based program… and that's it.

Now, to DeVries credit, he has written an entire book on this topic and I am sure that if I picked up that book that he would say more about this.  But to me, this approach seems problematic.  To just add one more program, or even change an existing program seems to fall short of what DeVries is arguing for at the beginning.  But, to his credit, I think what he's trying to say is "Do something that you can manage at first, and then go from there" which is good advice.  

So now it is up to you my readers, what suggestions would you give to a team of people who wanted to "[Use] the position of the youth ministry to access, empower, and connect students to the most effective sources of faith formation, namely the nuclear family and the extended family of the church" ?

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Categories: Youth Ministry
  1. d. (perry) mckinney
    June 13, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    Brian – Linked onto your page from someone else’s…and just thought I would let you know that I’m working at a church in the area as the Assistant Youth Director (1 yr. in May) We recently read through DeVries book, and another with the title of “Family-Friendly Church” by Fruedenburg…in his newer addition of the book DeVries offers ideas on how to carry out this “program” – and currently we are struggling through this very concept. I would be interested to talk – too much to write in an email. I would definitely suggest reading the book though if you are interested in hearing more on the idea….Congratulations on the wedding to you and Renee!!

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