What I Learned at Youth Specialties: Youth Pastors Want to Talk about Gay Marriage

Steve Argue, Chap Clark, Andrew Root, and Danielle Shroyer talk about eschatology on a theological panel moderated by Eric Leafblad at the 2012 National Youth Workers Convention (photo by Gavin Richardson)

Please pardon the Sunday post. Usually, I don’t post on Sunday and try to keep a sabbath, but I’m not bound by the law! Also, I’m sitting in the DFW airport, reflecting on my time at the National Youth Workers Convention.

Over the past few days, I’ve seen scores of old friends, given talks on culture and the atonement, and sat on theological panels discussing sexuality and the nature of scripture. It’s been since 2008 that I’ve spoken the NYWC, and I didn’t know how it would go: would people remember me? would my message still resonate with youth pastors, even though I haven’t been one since 2003? Well, it was really fun. We had great conversations in each of those venues.

But here is the most intriguing takeaway for me: youth workers want to talk about GLBT issues, gay marriage, and issues of human sexuality.

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Youth Ministry Round-Up

Here’s some stuff going on in the youth ministry world that is of note:

  • The National Youth Workers Convention takes place this weekend, with the addition of Theological Forums.  I think this is an excellent development.
  • I presented a paper at the Association of Youth Ministry Educators this fall, arguing that evangelical youth ministry is directly responsible for the Emerging Church Movement, which is a bit ironic since evangelicals have turned bearish on the movement.  A version of that paper is in the current issue of Immerse Journal, which you can download for free here.
  • The latest iteration of re:form has been released.  This one is called re:form ancestors, and it’s a character-based study of the Hebrew Scriptures (see video below).  A New Testament edition is next in the queue.

The Battle for the Church (Market)

There’s a battle brewing in the church in America.  It’s not over gay marriage or abortion or whether to do away with ordination (much to my chagrin).  No, it’s over who will capture the church market with their church community software.  There are three contenders, as far as I can tell, and a whole lot of money at stake — both money that’s already been spent on development, and money to be made on future sales.  The three are:

The Table Project – developed and owned by YouthWorks, a non-profit mission organization;

The City – developed by Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church and now owned by Zondervan, a subsidiary of HarperCollins, a subsidiary of Newscorp;

SoChurch – developed and owned, as far as I can tell, by the SoChurch team.

Full disclosure: I used to work for YouthWorks and I have published books with Zondervan.  But no one has asked me to blog about this, nor has any of these groups offered me a look at their system.

I don’t have a dog in this fight, but it seems that others do.  Last week on the SoChurch blog, Ben Forsberg wrote a quite aggressive post, replete with fighting rhetoric, in which he accused The City of “buying our Google AdWords and following our Twitter followers.”  He writes, [Read more…]

The Future of Youth Ministry Publishing

A youth ministry prof (and my friend), Terry Linhart, weighs in on the resignation of Jay Howver from Zondervan, which means there is currently no youth ministry aquistions editor (as far as I know) at Z.  What does that mean for youth ministry publishing?  A huge question, which Terry raises:

Though the future is bright for YS/Zondervan publishing, there is an empty space where once there was radical vibrancy.  The West Coast grassroots philosophy has been absorbed into corporate efficiency (and that’s not all bad), and a hollow breeze blows (but it’s warm, since it’s from San Diego) where once loud music blared and revolutionary ideas like “Get Fired for the Glory of God” percolated.

It feels a bit surreal.

via The surreal ‘end of a chapter’ for Youth Specialties publishing | Terry Linhart.

HT: Bethany Stolle