In the six years I’ve taught Youth and Family Ministry at Augsburg College, I’ve noticed a decrease in the number of students in our program. However, I’ve also seen an increase in the number of students across the college who are interested in and involved with youth ministry in some form. These students want to work with youth in the context of a faith community, but have no interested in earning a degree in youth ministry. In fact, many of them don’t see themselves serving professionally in youth ministry in the traditional sense.
This is both troubling and inspiring. The problem is not a lack of interest in ministry with youth. The problem, I think, is linked to the branding of our profession. I know many talented, innovative, young adults (20-somethings) with a passion for faith-based youth work. This is inspiring! Yet, they have no desire to pursue it professionally because the current brand of youth ministry doesn’t resonate with their own sense of call. This is troubling and I’m not sure if the church is willing to do the hard work of rebranding youth ministry. I’m not sure this need is even on the church’s radar.
In January Studio 360 ran a story on their project to rebrand educators for the 21st century. Teachers had grown tired of what they called the “apple-crapple” branding associated with their profession – apples, ABCs, 123s, one-room school houses, rulers, etc. This branding did not express the vital work they do on a day-to-day basis and causes society to trivialize their work. This makes me wonder if the same can be done for youth ministry.
Watch the 5-minute video below, ponder these questions and then post your thoughts. I’d love to find out if there is a need to rebrand youth ministry and (if there is) what it might look like.
- Do we need to rebrand youth ministry? Why or why not?
- What are the icons and descriptors currently associated with youth ministry that need to be trashed (i.e., the equivalent of education’s apples, ABCs, 123s, etc.)?
- What might be some new images and words that would better describe the vital work we do on a daily basis?
Please take a minute and post your thoughts. Maybe this can happen!