So where’s the future of youth ministry heading?
A lot of student pastors are always asking this question.
A few months ago, I was watching an interview with Billy Corgan — the lead singer for The Smashing Pumpkins. And in this interview Billy was asked the question of: Where do you think the future of the music industry is heading?
Billy’s answer was brillant. He said right now the music industry is all singles driven. This means an artist puts out one great song and tries to sell this one song as much as possible while trying to get a lot of hits on youtube. It’s not about the album rather it’s about the single one hit wonder.
Billy said what Smashing Pumpkins is trying to do is the complete opposite. The Smashing Pumpkins are all about creating a digital, holistic experience which is the future for the music industry. Billy strongly believes when you listen to music, you not only need to enjoy the single hit, but you need to enjoy the band persona, their entire album and all the extras included, their youtube channel and their social media presence. In the past, musical artists were all about creating a great album. Think about Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana,The Beatles, U2, AC/DC, etc. Now musical artists are all about creating a single hit song.
According to Billy Corgan the future of youth ministry needs to be like how he describes the future of the music industry.
In the past, youth ministry has been all about producing this one big event or program — where you gather the crowd and you get the student’s saved. Some youth ministries believe if you find this one magic silver bullet then you will succeed. In some ways, this is the same mentality the music industry is in — produce one great song and make as much money as possible off of that one song. The future of youth ministry doesn’t hinge on creating a one hit wonder event or program but a holistic experience that creates an incredible experience for all involved. See, there’s nothing wrong with this “single event/program or single song” mentality but I think it needs to be expanded into more experiences for all.
The future holds a much larger strategic, holistic and collaborative vision of all the experiences youth ministry can offer. Billy said it best. The future is all about getting all your people to encounter all of your experiences. The future of youth ministry is more concern with impacting students, parents, leaders, church, schools and community. Billy would suggest that youth pastors need to design a youth ministry that has a very complete, hopeful and positive experience for everyone involved.
Here are a few of the keys to moving towards a more holistic, full experiential youth ministry:
- create sustainable, simple systems
- offer incredible experiences to parents either online or offline
- consistently train your leaders either online or offline
- create an insane environment for students and leaders to encounter God (i.e. set designs, music playlists, bumper videos, use props in teaching, utilize propresenter and planning center, have solid teaching content, prep leaders on what is happening in environment and in small groups)
- a have strong social media presence for students, parents and leaders
- support local schools
- serve the local community
- rely on graphics for all your communication mediums
- use video as much as possible
One of my favorite youth ministry professors, Pete Ward says:
You want to see the future of the church, look at your local youth ministry department
The future of youth ministry is here and now. Now let’s create unforgettable, relational and spiritual experiences for leaders, student and families.
To end this post — I felt it was fitting to embed one of my favorite Smashing Pumpkins songs: