I had the privilege of co-coordinating a brand new book, GLOBAL YOUTH MINISTRY (Zondervan/YS, 2011), that serves one of the faster-growing areas of youth ministry. International youth ministry, once relegated to a one-hour session at a youth ministry conferences (and only 15 people showed up) has now become a vocational focus for thousands of youth workers. Some colleges and seminaries have developed new courses on global youth ministry while others have modified their courses to include units related to this area. We begin the book by stating:
“The growth of Christian youth ministry around the world has been nothing short of phenomenal. In regions where strategic ministry to youth barely existed 15 years ago, you’ll now discover well-organized ministries with established histories of effectiveness. Where none existed five years ago, a fledgling group of adults works to establish a regular presence among the young people in a community.”
For over two years I served as a co-editor of the book, GLOBAL YOUTH MINISTRY, which will be released March 29th. The book features over 20 of the leading Christian youth ministry thinkers and authors from around the globe, drawing them together in a fascinating book that will aid the the educational efforts of organizations, colleges, and seminaries. The book will be extremely effective as a supplemental text for any seminary or college course (in a variety of disciplines) and it will work well assisting youth ministry organizations that have their own training program. And for veteran youth workers it is an interesting bird’s eye view of youth ministry around the world.
But, enough of the commercial. Co-editing a book like this gave me a unique opportunity and, for over two years, I stayed in close contact with a variety of organizations, leaders, schools (colleges, graduate schools, seminaries of various types), and local youth workers. I held a wide range of conversations with a wide range of people from a various Christian traditions. . Though no one has the corner on expertise regarding such a large topic, the editorial process of the book helped develop (I would hope, at least) an informed perspectives.
Over the next few weeks I will share a few of the observations (here and on other blogs) about global youth ministry that emerged during the editorial process. I started the series of observations last week with a history of how interest in international youth ministry developed within North America. There are quite a few organizations singularly focused on developing youth ministry in various regions of the world.
The first thing I learned about global is that it is, uh, worldwide. I know that’s not a shocking statement, but the implications are fascinating:
- Global youth ministry is present in every region of the world. Travel to almost any context and you’ll find committed Christian leaders who spend their spare time (many are bi-vocational) for the expressed purpose of working with the youth in their community.
- Global youth ministry is rooted in various Christian traditions. So, no one has a real corner on what is happening around the world because….
- …… Global youth ministry is compartmentalized. Whether due to denominational ties or to the mere fact that most local youth ministry is small and trying to just meet its own needs, there wasn’t a wide awareness of other equally committed youth ministries within many regions. We sought authors for who had a regional influence – and even into North America to help readers gain a broader perspective. There is another contributing factor to this compartmentalization that I’ll develop further in another post.
So, I walk away from this asking myself what can I/we learn as North American youth workers:
- What overseas youth ministry am I financially supporting? If we are committed to reaching the world for Christ, then we probably ought to be supporting our brothers and sisters who are at the forefront of that effort. I don’t mean this in a colonialistic way, but rather as a missional way to be good stewards of the blessings we have. If we’re investing time and money into short-term missions, I think we should be equally committed to helping those who live in a local context, speak the local language, and will have long-term presence do their job. And, like it or not, financial strain is a significant strain for almost every global youth ministry.
- How have I become compartmentalized in what I do in youth ministry? The youth ministry down the street or across town is not our competition… they’re on the same team as we are. And, they need as much encouragement as you and I do. The same unity we feel at a youth ministry conference should be something we nurture with fellow youth workers in our local communities as we network together beyond our created barriers.
What other implications or challenges does the fervor of global youth workers around the world present to you? What have I missed here? What local youth ministry in another context is one that you have lent your support to?
Here are the contributing authors for the book GLOBAL YOUTH MINISTRY:
(See more authors’ pics and bios here, and you can read an excerpt here).
Here are the authors for the book GLOBAL YOUTH MINISTRY:
(See more authors’ pics and bios, visit here)
The next two weeks hold a great deal of excitement for me as I wrap up a dream I’ve had for a long time: To coordinate a book on global youth ministry that features many of the leading thinkers in various regions of the world. As my co-editor, David Livermore, and I worked on a forthcoming book that helps youth groups engage globally, we also served as co-editors on GLOBAL YOUTH MINISTRY, a book that educates and informs those who want to be a part youth ministry around the world.
The editorial journey has been a true blessing for us. We’ve been overwhelmed that everyone we asked, our “dream list” of authors, said “yes” to our invitations to author a portion of the book. So, the book features a strong lineup of authors who influence how youth ministry is done in their regions of the world. I won’t list the authors here, letting the publishing folks figure out how we’re going to work a debut. In fact, the cover will be a bit different from the one here – I think we’re adding some more flags to the book and rearranging them a bit.
One of the dangers in writing about the youth of the world is that we take away their “voice.” We don’t really listen to them and their plight, we just tell the world what we think the issues are. If you listen to the youth of the world when they speak of the future, you’d hear a resounding concern about their economic futures. Some already feel the pain of impoverishment and are forced to work as slaves, low-level labor, or trafficked away. Others who grow up in healthier situations, look at their corrupt government or poor economy and realize their only hope will come via immigration (legal or otherwise).
The recent statistics of youth unemployment from the International Labor Organization show a continued rise in the number of unemployed youth (youth is defined as 15-24 years of age) in the world. Over 13% of the world’s youth are unemployed, a jump of over 1% in the last year, the largest increase on record. 152 million young people live in households that earn less than $1.25 a day.