Chapter two in PMYM is titled, “A missional agenda”, which is highly necessary given the current reality of living in a post-Christian world. Essentially, Tony argues for a kind of youth ministry that is missional at its core:
As we youth workers begin to see ourselves as misisonaries, we can reconfigure our job descriptions so they look more like mission pastors and less like program directors.
The chapter gives a brief overview of Christendom beginning with 313 AD – when Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which made Christianity the official religion of the Western world. This resulted in Western culture becoming synonymous with Christianity, making “missions” necessarily a cross-cultural endeavor. Obviously, as a result of the Enlightenment, rationality came to dominate Western culture, not Christianity. The Western world is no longer a homogeneous Christian culture.
As such, youth ministers must be missionaries. We must not accept the status quo, but learn the culture to which we have been sent. Doing that will require staying in a youth ministry position for the long haul, rather than the oft-quoted 18 months. It means measuring success by how many long-term disciples we have, not how many warm bodies fill a room. This also means we can’t just copy other people! Curriculum must be adapted (or created), programs can’t come from someone across the country, music that is hip on the charts might not be hip in our location. We must learn our culture and minister to it.
Tony does a good job of advocating a missional way of being a youth minister, but he seems to place a lot of the missional emphasis on the youth worker. I wish he would have shown the necessity of a missional church (which he mentions in passing) and a missional group of teenagers. It can’t all be left up to the youth minister. Regardless, the chapter is a thought-provoker.