|A Praise Band in 1982...|
When I started there were no cell phones, no VCRs (yes, I said VCR!), no PCs and no cable TV. We did have CB radios (Breaker 1-9, this here's The Bandit!). The only CCM artists I had ever heard of were Amy Grant, Keith Green, Larry Norman, Don Francisco and some lady named Evie. A Praise Band was called a guitar. I watched as the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention went from a once a year event with about 600 in attendance to the multiple city, many thousands of participants events we see today. In those days Doug Fields was just a guy in Jim Burns' youth group. When I started, GROUP was a magazine for the students in your youth group- and that was all. No work camps and no magazine for leaders- just a long-since extinct event for students called the National Christian Youth Congress. There is no truth to the rumor that Moses was in my first youth group- although Duffy Robbins once told a seminar I had been his youth pastor. He also told them I had been his mother's youth pastor. Seriously! But you get the point- I have seen a lot.
Youth Ministry has certainly changed a lot in 30 years, and many of the changes have made student ministry much better and helped us have a greater impact in the lives of the youth we serve. But sometimes I think we have changed simply for the sake of change. We have bought into new ideas without prayerfully considering their full impact; we have been guilty of being trendy. We have chosen what "looks good" over what works. In my humble opinion we have too often chosen program and style over relationships. In any case, today's youth pastor needs to be aware of their heritage. I hoped this helped a little bit with that journey, and I will continue to remind us of how things "used to be." Blessings!