When I was in Nashville for the NYWC, I picked up Marko’s Youth Ministry 3.0. I’ve been reading a lot of the reviews on it, which you can find on his blog. They are pretty accurate with what I found. I was really surprised at how short it was. Don’t know why that surprised me. I guess I thought “manifesto” and assumed a few hundred pages. Instead, it was 108 pages, mid sized print, with 27 pages of footnotes (that part I appreciated). I read it on three levels: first, as a lifer in youth min (17 years and counting), what is God showing me here? second, as a leader of a mid sized team of leaders, is this helpful for them? third, as a youth ministry prof, will this work for my college students?
In short order, it helped me personally to ask questions. It isn’t a resource that I will put in my volunteers hands. They don’t go this philosophical in their thinking of ministry. I’m not sure about my students. I’ll re-read it for them again. It might hit, I’ll have to see.
Overall, Marko has done a great job of asking questions. His retelling of how we got where we are is succinct, but helpful. For more of that thought, look to Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry by Andrew Root. (Deep, but excellent!) I think Marko’s tone is one of the healthiest I have heard in an author wanting to question the church; he’s honest it seems, owns his own contributions to how we got here, isn’t advocating an “abandon ship” attitude, and wades in with ideas and theories, knowing they are not a “one size fits all” solution. I’m really impressed. Marko, keep writing in this vein, you’re only going to get better at it. I need it, and we need it.
But, as a youth pastor at a large church in a small Midwest town, does it help? Yes. And no. I feel like Marko is pointing to the same questions I’m asking. He is giving permission to continue the ongoing conversation about “why is this not working?” He provides a model for humble AND honest dialogue. He reminds me that I am not alone. But I don’t feel any farther down the road than before I read the book. I just feel like I have more companions on this journey to “who knows where?”
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not discouraged. I know God is well aware of where we are going. He just hasn’t shown me the greater picture. I’m not sure He will. I’m not sure He will give it to anyone to write a book about. That’s the challenge of the 3.0 idea. Organic. Different. Marko makes this clear. It won’t be another program we all adapt. It is simply a journey. The Way. Jesus.
I’m just glad Marko is on it with me.