"There are always risks in taking initiatives, but there are greater risks now in waiting for sure things, especially since there are very few sure things in the current volatile climate," quotes Mark Senter in his preface. This version of Senter's doctoral dissertation gives a historical view of youth ministry since its inception in North America two centuries ago.
Senter capitalizes on the twofold meaning of revolution as a proper description of the current situation. A revolution indicates "a complete cycle," he says, just as the earth makes one revolution every 24 hours. Senter has analyzed youth ministry in 50-year cycles and believes we've entered the breaking point of a new cycle. The second meaning for revolution refers to "a sudden, radical, or complete change." Senter believes the second meaning also applies to youth ministry today.
This work is a milestone in historical research into youth ministry. A look back makes a compelling argument for accurately predicting the future. Developments in interdenominational youth ministry and parachurch ministries over the past two decades fit perfectly into the cycle that has come to a close.
Early indications of the new cycle suggest that North American youth ministry will experience non-Anglo leadership, a greater international perspective, increasing urban focus, evangelization of groups rather than individuals, an emphasis on prayer and worship for youth, women in key leadership roles, youth ministry professionals training volunteers for service, consumer-oriented youth ministry from churches that intend to be viable, and resistance from the church, whether it be pastors, administrators, parents, or producers of re sources.
Since the Adventist Church has in creased its contact with the rest of society, one wonders about the degree to which the coming revolution will impact us. Some acknowledge that it has happened already. Previously existing structures and organizations will continue in the new revolution. While new models will take the lead in reaching young people, the existing entities will have a very narrow range of groups they reach effectively. We face the danger of interpreting this narrow effectiveness as purity rather than obsolescence. We would do well to brainstorm new models that would assist in forming the head rather than the tail of youth ministry for the coming cycle. Toward the end of the book Senter provides seminal ideas for such an approach.
Let the Calebs and Joshuas take the day rather than those who maintain their identity in an outdated status quo!