But I have been heavily invested in the life of the church's ministry, I know and interact with student ministers, I have looked at the research . . . My gut is that "yes, it's broken."
Still, there's this:
So I called a few who called a few who called a few and eventually, my back yard was filled with no fewer than a dozen former students. 3 of which were former interns. One is married. Two have answered a call into full time vocational youth ministry. All are still striving to love Jesus as young adults with their own unique gifts, personalities, and passions. What a sweet time this was.
There are days when I feel like an utter failure as a youth pastor. Every once in a while, some long term fruit is sweet. Especially when you get bombarded with "studies" that show how many students evidently blow off any time/energy you pour into them and dump Jesus like a bad habit. Evidently youth ministry is broken. These dozen are a sucker punch to the gut of that idea. Maybe they're the minority. But they're out there.
Yes, they are.
The student ministry I directed was not large (neither was the church), and its makeup was largely troubled kids from broken homes, most with parents who didn't go to any church. One guy in particular struck me as immature, needy, and very much in need of mentoring. So I did my best with everyone, and especially him.
He is now the student minister.
I think I come out of a church culture that is broken. But, heck, I came out of it.
I don't think, as many church pragmatists do, that the end justifies the means. And we must reform. But there is fruit. There has always been fruit.
Those of us who talk about the culture of evangelicalism, who talk about ministries and missionality, who talk strategy and methodology ought to always remember we are not dealing with statistics here, but souls.
Toward a more fruitful fruitfulness . . .
Hit "Pause" on that Youth Ministry Bashing