Young ministry legend Mark DeVries says raising faithful children in churches is all about mentoring - and congregations offer unmatched opportunities for making a real difference in the lives of young people.
Mark, who heads up Youth Ministry Architects, says 'gone' is the youth minister as 'charismatic camp counselor' - and 'in' is the ability of congregations to come around youth, teens, and young adults, by providing the natural mentorship that accompanies intergenerational institutions like the Church.
In this interview Mark shares his vast wisdom on what's working - and what's working better.
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Mark DeVries is seeing some great, vital youth ministry going on in loads of U.S. churches - and much of it is based on getting older Christians involved in the lives of younger ones. Here are my notes from the interview:
That's how long the average youth minister stays in one job, which is less than high school. Contrast that with the longevity of many of our church members and we'll value the stability of cross-generational friendships even more.
Intergenerational Prayer Partners
It comes highly recommended by Mark: match each young person in the church with an older one (or have them self-select). Have them regularly pray for one another, remember their birthdays/baptismal anniversaries, and celebrate at an annual luncheon, complete with a guest speaker.
Small Church Youth Group Envy?
If your church's youth group is small, why not go as a group to visit bigger ones? Then stop for pizza on the way home to discuss. Chances are your kids will bond and learn to value, even more, their own group.
About Mark DeVries
Mark DeVries is the founder of MINISTRY ARCHITECTS** (2002), a hands-on coaching service for churches whose ministries are in transition or who hope to move their ministries strategically forward. The company has enjoyed significant growth over the past decade and currently includes the following specialty groups, with others in the works: Youth Ministry Architects (2002), Children's Ministry Architects (2010), and Small Church Ministry Architects** (2011). Since 1986, Mark has served as the Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families at First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, where he continues to oversee the youth ministry on a part-time basis. Mark is a graduate of Baylor University and Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of several books, including Family-Based Youth Ministry, Sustainable Youth Ministry, and The Most Important Year of a Man's/Woman's Life and the Indispensable Youth Pastor, which he co-authored with Jeff Dunn-Rankin. Mark and his wife, Susan, live in Nashville and have three grown children (Adam, Debbie and Leigh) and two granddaughters (Parish and Nealy).
Books Mark Recommends
A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix
Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus (Youth Specialties)
Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life