Insert Surname 3
Some authors would argue that those working in the youth ministry donot need to understand the theology of the local church. They believethat the youth ministry can only survive if it is different from the“normal” experience in a local church. Others would propose thatthe starting point for any model that guides the youth ministry muststart from a clear understanding of the theology of the local church(Clowney, 1995, p. 120).1Literature reveals that there are many views of the church and theyouth ministry but, the essay explores four different youth ministrymodels. They may include the inclusive congregational, missional,preparatory and strategic models. The four models support the factthat an understanding of the theology of the church forms the basisfor any children and youth ministry model. The critiques to themodels imply that the youth ministry must operate differently fromthe local church for it to survive and achieve good results.
Inclusive Congregational Model
Inclusive Congregational Model was developed by Malan Nel beginningwith the assumption that the youth ministry should not be separatefrom the church congregation. He suggests that the youth should beincluded in every ministry of a church congregation. The model seeksthat every ministry should consider how to serve the youth and howthese young people will serve the church ministry. The youth shouldbe integrated into the life of the church faith community. Theparish, therefore, becomes the mirror of the parent childrelationship because the youth are mentored and included in thecongregation of God. Just like a child, the youth come to know theirplace in the body of believers, which creates a sense of belongingfor them. Nel concludes that having a separate and distinct youthministry is not necessary even if the youth’s spiritual needs aresimilar to the adults’ needs but, the youth needs are somehow“differentiated and deeply focused” (Senter et al., 2001, p.19).2
Those who criticize the Inclusive Congregational model tend toexploit the author’s contradiction, which appears when he arguesthe youth need to be integrated to every church ministry but, theirministry should be “differentiated and focused.” From thatperspective, it is necessary to have a separate ministry intended tomeet the unique spiritual needs of the youth. Statistics show thatalmost 1000 teenagers leave the church every week, and the youthsupport to the church has massively decreased. Phil Moon and MarkAshton are experienced leaders in youth ministry, and they think thatyouth work should be carried out separately from the normal churchwork. They have formulated a radical yet biblical strategy thatnecessitates the separation of youth ministry from the larger churchcongregation. Their aim is to renew the vision that Christians havefor the young people, and work towards reducing the huge number ofadolescents who leave the church every year.
Mark Ashton and colleagues provides a framework for the youthleaders to develop a strategy to guide Christian youth work. Theirwork is congruent to the implications of the Inclusive Congregationalmodel that claims that having a separate youth ministry is notnecessary. Instead of taking the youth work related issues to findout what the Bible says about theme, these authors worked through theScriptures and searched what it says about youth work. As a result,they came up with a biblical strategy for every youth leader willingto do church-based children or youth ministry. Their strategy is notonly supported by the model but, also draws support from the works ofJesus. When Jesus was carrying out his missions, he encountered manypeople, and at that time he was trying to make significant impacts onthe lives of a few people, who are indeed the youth (Ashton& Moon, 2007, p. 100).3
Others propose that the leading strategies adopted by youth leadersshould involve parents in meeting the spiritual needs of the youth.These authors tend to support the critiques of the InclusiveCongregational model, which implies that the youth ministry should beseparate from the local church. They insist that there is amisunderstanding of what the youth ministry is involved with, andwhat it is destined to accomplish in the long run. This is becausethe baptisms have gone down and students are increasing walking awayfrom the church ministry. These authors argue that it is a high timefor the faith community to rethink the youth ministry, and come upwith solutions, which allows people to escape from theprogram-centered youth ministry. If the church stakeholders can usethe Inclusive Congregational model, they can restore the church to anindividual-centered youth ministry where discipleship and evangelismare highly valued doctrines (Borgman, 1997, p. 58).4
Some authors in youth ministry and the church argue that theInclusive Congregational Approach does not define youth ministry indepth. In other words, the model fails because it cannot describe theconnection between the theology of the church and the youth ministry.These authors, therefore, come up with their own theology of youthministry, which emphasizes on the importance of reflective in youthwork. They claim that the old youth ministries have not enabled theyouth to grow spiritually and hence, there is need for a moreradicalized leading strategy that views the youth ministry asseparate from the church. The proposed strategy for youth leaders isunderpinned by the theology of the youth ministry where the youth isgiven a platform to share their stories, get affirmed in theirindividual personhood and then, hear the word of God (Borgman, 1997,p. 83).5This can only happen if the church differentiates the needs of youthfrom the larger congregation’s needs, which are then given specialfocus based on the theology of the youth ministry and not that of thechurch.
The preparatory model by Wesley Black focuses on developingthe youth to become the future church members while advocated for aspecialized youth ministry, which prepares them to become the futuredisciples, leaders and evangelists (Senter et al., 2001, p. 26).6The model strikes a balance in proposing how the social anddevelopmental needs of the youth can be met while ensuring that thisgroup remains part of the larger church community. It supports thefact the understanding of the theology of the church is the startingpoint for any youth ministry model. The model emphasizes ondiscipleship, which is a characteristic of the individual-centeredministry that defines the theology of the church. There are somepractices that have seen the Preparatory model working in the past,for example, in the youth ministry councils, weekday ministries andlead teams. Black advocates for a longer-term approach to youthministry rather than having a series of short-term oriented practicesin the youth ministry, which indeed establish short-livedrelationships.
Critiques to the Preparatory model would revolve around the questionof what the youth are prepared to do, and yet the real goal of anyyouth model is to prepare the youth for the future. In other words,the model does not shed light on how to curb the modern-day challengeof adolescents leaving the church at high rates. If the PreparatoryApproach is adopted in youth ministry, then, only the older membersof the church will understand the aims of the model because they canremember the old Sunday school days. The youth cannot recall anyexperience because they have not passed the youthful age mark.Instead, they can only believe what they pastors tell them, whichindeed leaves them with many questions about the youth ministry. As aresult, the Preparatory approach becomes ineffective in curbing thepresent challenges faced by churches regarding the youth since itdoes not establish a caring relationship between the pastor and theyouth (Griffiths, 2008, p. 76).7
Some churches have adopted the Preparatory model by reverting to theold teaching doctrine that is consistent with the roots of theologyof the church and the Bible. While many churches in the modern worlduses the program-centered ministry to draw more teens to the church,these reformed churches have embarked on applying the simple ministrymodels that yielded good results in the past. The practices adoptedby these churches include the specialized youth ministries, leadteams and youth ministry councils. Instead of applying theentertainment model, these churches believe that the preparatorymodel provides a framework for reducing the high rate of youth dropouts from the church ministries.
Brian Cosby is a scholar in church and youth ministry, and hebelieves that the youth are leaving the church because they are notestablished in faith and adequately nurtured to grow spiritually(Cosby, 2012, p. 23).8He offers some basic concepts on how to change the philosophy of theyouth ministry and achieve good results. Cosby insists that the youthministry should be based on the teaching doctrines and the readingsfrom the Bible. Therefore, it is evident that Cosby recognizes thatthe youth ministry is a cell of the larger church community, whichcan only survive if the youth workers understand the theology of thechurch. The author notes that entertainment and number driven modelsof the youth ministry have led to the increased cases of youth dropout from the church after high school. They often leave the churchbecause they feel dissatisfied with the ministry, which cannot givemeaningful answers to their life’s questions.
Some authors still argue that in order to reclaim the youth ministryfrom an entertainment culture, the youth should be viewed as membersof the church congregations. Thus, this necessitates the integrationof the youth ministry into the church’s main agenda or ministries.In other words, there is no need to separate the youth ministry fromthe church while trying to root out the entertainment model that haveseen youths being taught in the wrong ways. When the youth ministryis said to be entertainment driven, it means that the church uses theprogram-centered ministry, which is characterized by other aspectssuch as the need for increased number of attendants, media coverageand a change in philosophy. This kind of youth ministry offer littlein teaching doctrines, which are extracted from the Bible, ratherthey focus of incorporating secularism in the church (Cosby, 2012, p.24).9
Other scholars in youth ministry propose that in the post-modernculture, the young people should be asked what they want before thepastors give them spiritual support. The proposed solution here seemsto support the fact that youth ministries should be separate from thechurch because the youth have special needs than the rest of thechurch community. They believe that the theology of the family andthe church fails to give the young adults the social and emotionalsupport they need even before receiving spiritual nourishment(Wright, 2012, p. 34).10In other words, the pastors need to reach out to the young adults,listen to their views and then embark on developing their skills inworking in the church. However, this can only be achieved if thechurch establishes special programs that are separate from the churchand operates independently. The only task assigned to the youthleaders in these separate ministries is that they should adopt theindividual-centered model that restricts entertainment but, fostersdiscipleship and evangelism (Ford, Graham & Denney, 1996, p.56).11
The missional model, which was developed by Chapman Clark, seeks toaddress the “heart of the problem,” that is, viewing the youthgroups as private clubs introducing in the church. The model supportsthat the youth group is a “necessary nuisance” in the largerchurch congregation and the church should integrate the youth ineveryday life of the church. Clark’s model also seeks to addressthe issue of strained relationship between the adults and youth dueto the barriers that exist both in and out of the church. Then, usingthe missional approach, the adults in the church should reach out tothe youth, overcome the existing barriers and help the youthrecognize their importance in the “household” of God, which isthe church. Clarks insists that the youth ministry is indeed aseparate ministry on its own but, it should be viewed as part of thelarger church congregation (Senter et al., 2001, p. 35).12
Some of the critics of the Missional approach would argue that themodels lays much emphasis on reaching out to the youth and somehowneglects the biblical teachings given to this group. The fact thatthis model recognizes the complexity of youth groups in the world,today, necessitates the youth ministry to be operated separately fromthe mainframe church so as to accomplish the mission of teaching andreaching out to the young people. In this way, the critics believethat the youth ministry would serve well as a ministry driven bypurpose and not merely following the theology of the church. This isbecause at some point, the youth will still prefer to retain the oldbarriers between them and the adult community since they believe thatfinally they can do it their own way. When the youth ministry istreated as separate ministry, the youth can make decisions at anindividual level without being influenced by the adults (Moser,2000, p. 35).13
Pete Ward believes that if the adult church communityor the youth workers go out and meet with young people and befriendthem, they can easily introduce them to Christ Ward combinestheology, missiology and sociology of the youth work to recommend themost effective strategies to be adopted by the youth leaders to curbthe challenge of the youth “running away” from the church afterschool. It is evident that Ward supports the Missional Approachbecause he implies that the church should rethink the youth ministryby calling on the youth to join or come back to the church andaccomplish God’s universal mission of salvation to the world (Ward,1997, p. 109).14
Another view of the church and youth ministry was proposed by MarkSenter, who developed the strategic model that aims at creating acommunity of church leaders to establish and entirely new church.Senter observed that the youth are mere spectators of middle-agedchurch because most adults who had a vibrant group as teens did notconnect that experience to the mission of the larger church communityas adults. In other words, successful youth ministry that has novision about the future did not convert the youth to become competentpastors, youth ministers or leaders in their old age. Therefore,Senter brings forth the Strategic model whose aim is to promote thecontinuity of leadership and vision, and emphasize on the conversionof the church community with time. He argues that for any youthministry to succeed, it should address the issue of youth groupfragmentations, which occurs after high school (Senter et al., 2001,p. 43).15In this way, the successful and vibrant youth experience inadolescent age gives birth to a future successful church of adults.
Critics of the Strategic approach brought forward by Mark Senterargue that the model is complex, and they propose that the churchshould adopt a more simple and flexible approach to youth mentoring.The simple approach would involve isolating the youth ministry fromthe theology of the local church. In response to this critique,Senter argues that adopting a simpler approach would mean going backto the old style of public education where students are taught in oneroom. The critics believe that for the youth ministry to survive, itshould be separated from the complex church community that has seenmany adolescents leaving the church in the past. With the increasedcomplexity of the church organization and development of post-modernmodels of the youth ministry, there is a need to specialize in onearea to achieve better results (Senter et al., 2001, p. 73).16
In his book, God at the Mall, Pete Ward argues that the youthministry is guided by nearly unrealistic frameworks, and the panicassociated with these frameworks usually talks about “how” andrarely talks about “why.” As a result, the church creates youthworkers, who are trained in many thinks but, cannot easily dosomething in particular. Ward’s arguments seem to support theStrategic model, which emphasizes the church to decide where theywant to go, how to get there and why they need to work towards thesegoals (Ward, 1997, p. 75).17In other words, the church should rethink youth ministry and ensurecontinuity of the real-life youth work in the future. The youthleaders should thus be trained to perform particular tasks, forexample, teaching, reaching out to the youth, coordinating theactivities of the youth and guiding the youth ministry towardsaccomplishing their mission and realizing their visions.
The discussion of whether to separate the youth ministry from thechurch or not still remains a debatable issue as scholars in thetheology of the church tries to curb the challenge of young peopleleaving the church at a high rate. Some authors propose that thetheology of the church and the family is the starting point for anyyouth ministry model. They believe that ‘reverting’ to the simpleministry of teaching the youth about the Bible would yield betterresults and retrieve the youth ministry from the program-centeredchurch ministry. In other words, these authors firmly believe that ifthe church denounces the entertainment and number driven models thatcharacterize the program-centered ministry, they can bring back orprevent the youth from ‘running away’ from the church. Theiradversaries or opponents argue that for the youth ministry tosurvive, it should be separated from the church ministry and viewedas a ministry that yields a different experience than the churchitself. The critiques of the four models of youth ministry are usedby these authors to support their arguments.
Ashton, Mark and Moon, Phil. ChristianYouth Work. Carlisle: Authentic, 2007.
Borgman, Dean. When Kumbaya is not enough: a practical theologyfor youth ministry. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers,1997.
Clowney, Edmund. TheChurch. Illinois: IVP, 1995.
Cosby, Brian. Giving up gimmicks: reclaiming youth ministry froman entertainment culture. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & RPublishing, 2012.
Ford, Kevin, Graham, and Denney, James. Jesus for a newgeneration: reaching out to today`s young adults. London:Hodder & Stoughton, 1996.
Griffiths, Steve. AChristlike Ministry. London: YCT Press,2008.
Moser, Ken. Changingthe World through Effective Youth Ministry.Sydney: Aquila, 2000.
Senter, Mark, Black, Wesley, Clark, Chapman and Nel, Malan. Fourviews of youth ministry and the church: inclusive congregational,preparatory, missional, strategic. Grand Rapids, Mich: YouthSpecialties, 2001.
Ward, Pete, ed. RelationalYouth Work. Oxford: Lynx, 1995.
Ward, Pete. God atthe Mall. Hendrickson: Peabody, 1997.
Ward, Pete. Youthworkand the Mission of God. London: SPCK,1997.
Wright, Steve.  Rethink.New York: InQuest Minstries, 2012.
1 Clowney, Edmund. The Church. Illinois: IVP, 1995.
2 Senter, Mark, Black, Wesley, Clark, Chapman and Nel, Malan. Four views of youth ministry and the church: inclusive congregational, preparatory, missional, strategic. Grand Rapids, Mich: Youth Specialties, 2001.
3 Ashton, Mark and Moon, Phil. Christian Youth Work. Carlisle: Authentic, 2007.
4 Borgman, Dean. When Kumbaya is not enough: a practical theology for youth ministry. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.
5 Borgman, Dean. When Kumbaya is not enough: a practical theology for youth ministry. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.
6 Senter, Mark, Black, Wesley, Clark, Chapman and Nel, Malan. Four views of youth ministry and the church: inclusive congregational, preparatory, missional, strategic. Grand Rapids, Mich: Youth Specialties, 2001.
7 Griffiths, Steve. A Christlike Ministry. London: YCT Press, 2008.
8 Cosby, Brian. Giving up gimmicks: reclaiming youth ministry from an entertainment culture. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2012.
9 Cosby, Brian. Giving up gimmicks: Reclaiming youth ministry from an entertainment culture. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2012.
10 Wright, Steve.  Rethink. New York: InQuest Minstries, 2012.
11 Ford, Kevin, Graham, and Denney, James. Jesus for a new generation: reaching out to today`s young adults. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1996.
12 Senter, Mark, Black, Wesley, Clark, Chapman and Nel, Malan. Four views of youth ministry and the church: inclusive congregational, preparatory, missional, strategic. Grand Rapids, Mich: Youth Specialties, 2001.
13 Moser, Ken. Changing the World through Effective Youth Ministry. Sydney: Aquila, 2000.
14 Ward, Pete. Youthwork and the Mission of God. London: SPCK, 1997.
15 Senter, Mark, Black, Wesley, Clark, Chapman and Nel, Malan. Four views of youth ministry and the church: inclusive congregational, preparatory, missional, strategic. Grand Rapids, Mich: Youth Specialties, 2001.
16 Senter, Mark, Black, Wesley, Clark, Chapman and Nel, Malan. Four views of youth ministry and the church: inclusive congregational, preparatory, missional, strategic. Grand Rapids, Mich: Youth Specialties, 2001.
17 Ward, Pete. God at the Mall. Hendrickson: Peabody, 1997.