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"Youth Ministry, Modernity, and the Future of the Church"

Kent McDonaldYouth ministry is becoming a greater challenge in this postmodern post-Christian generation. Statistics tell us that nearly 50 percent of kids who are connected to a youth group throughout their senior year in high school will walk away from their faith in college. This three-day seminar will look at factors that we need to consider in our ministries that could help us navigate the murky waters of youth culture, understand the nature of the challenge, and develop insights into building a faith that lasts into the future of the church.

Day 1: Hardwired to Connect
The lack of community and of spiritual connection has given rise to unprecedented numbers of U.S. teens who are suffering from depression, anxiety, attention-deficit, conduct disorders, thoughts of suicide, and other serious mental and behavioral problems. A recent scientific study from the Commission on Children at Risk has engaged in a large body of research which shows that children are biologically "hard-wired" for enduring connections to others and for moral and spiritual meaning.  This has profound effects upon how we think about youth ministry in the future and how we address ways to reverse this trend. 

Day 2: Postmodern Teenagers: Can We Build a Faith that Lasts?
In this seminar we will have a videoconference discussion with Kara Powell, Ph.D., director of the Fuller Youth Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary; the discussion will center on her study "Sticky Faith: Practical Ideas to Nurture Long-Term Faith in Teenagers." Powell will help us understand the dynamics of students transitioning to college and will pinpoint steps that youth ministry can take to help students stick with their faith.

Day 3: Forming Adolescent Faith in the Digital Age
Technology is changing the way we think and is affecting how we understand the Christian faith. In this seminar we will explore...

  1. how this next generation is "branding" itself and determine what this branding is doing to members of their generation;

  2. how social media outlets are stunting adolescents' growth toward maturity;

  3. how the digital world has shaped this generation's soul in relation to time and space; we'll also discuss the adverse effects this soul-shaping has had upon living out gospel values.