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    Friday, April 24, 2009

    Sticky Youth Ministry

    I just got done reading Larry Osborne's Sticky Church and I was truly impressed. The main premise of the book is that Sermon-based small groups are an amazing way to make people stay at your church. It allows for authentic relationships to be formed, made and then maintained. All groups are on the very same page (even if they don't do the exact same thing). They all heard the sermon and are all dedicated to going deeper.

    What does this have to do with Emerging Youth Ministry? I think it has a lot to do with it!

    I hate to say this, but most of us Youth Pastors don't read outside of our own paradigm of Youth Ministry. We count (alot of times) the "Church" books as irrelevant to our situation and unusable because the concepts therein are set up for "older people" and not teens. This may or may not be the case...BUT there is always some great stuff to be learned within books that are zeroed in on the church, rather than simply youth ministry (eww, stepping on Doug Field's toes there...). To many times, we disregard GREAT ideas because they are for the older peeps in the pews.

    Larry Osborne was a Youth Pastor...at one time, so he knows a bit about how we function, so if you hate "church" books, this one might "ease" you into them. The practicality of this book will indeed assist with the paradigm shift that many Youth Ministry authors/speakers are calling for, namely Mark Oestreicher.

    When I was reading this book, I was thinking to myself: "We could do that with Youth Group to produce a deeper sense of belonging".

    Larry also answers some questions that were brought up in Youth Ministry 3.0, such as "how do we get a "think small" attitude for Youth Ministry?" The formatting of the sermon based small group does that and works from large to small group sizes.

    Don't get me wrong, it's not a canned small group idea that will "explode your youth ministry"...because it definitely NEEDS to be adapted to your particular group. However, the ideas, strategies and QUESTIONS Larry asks will perk up your mind and make you think about how small groups can be a vital part of your Ministry.

    Teens need belonging. Teens need a place where they can be authentic, real and open. A smaller setting does this for teens. This book has some great wisdom and I believe we as youth pastors can harness these great ideas and implement them into our paradigm.

    Reading Youth Ministry books is GREAT...but we need to read outside of that as well. We can't be blind to the church movement. In fact, we are called to lead the next church movement, then the next one because we are continually raising up the next church generation...may we never lose sight of that. God is using us to not only bring new people into His flock, but to guide them on how to do church.

    I am a huge advocate for small groups and doing "Lesson based" small groups. In fact it's how I've done it for a long time...this book helped me to question why I do it. It also gave me tools to make my small groups better and more efficient.

    It gave me a fresh perspective on "Who am I trying to reach?" and "How am I going to do this".

    Small Groups in Youth Ministry and Church Ministry will get larger, hopefully better too. The reason is because small groups create an environment where authentic faith can happen.

    I know some of you are thinking: "This is old hat...small groups? C'mon" I would agree...small groups is an old concept. Sometimes it bombs and sometimes it succeeds, this book gives answers as to why.

    To conclude: Emerging Youth Ministry will continue to utilize small groups. With that said, we have to learn to do them right, have the right mindset, have the right leaders and have the right mode for our specific place of ministry. This book gives some great insight into all those things.