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Youth Ministry in the 21st Century

Five Views

series: Youth, Family, and Culture

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There are many philosophies and strategies that drive today's youth ministry. To most people, they are variations on a single goal: to make faithful disciples of young people. However, digging deeper into various programs, books, and concepts reveals substantive differences among the approaches. In this multiview work, Chap Clark, one of the leading voices in youth ministry today, brings together a diverse group of leaders to present major views on youth ministry extant. Contributors and approaches include:

Fernando Arzola presents the Ecclesial Model of Youth Ministry. The goal is to develop a formal teaching strategy as the center of youth ministry nurture and discipleship. Arzola (PhD, Fordham University) is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of religion at Nyack College. He is the author of several books, including Toward a Prophetic Youth Ministry.

Greg Stier presents the Gospel Advancing Ministry Model. The goal is to equip and launch teenagers as mature believers invested in peer to peer evangelism ministry. Stier is founder and president of Dare 2 Share Ministries, which equips teenagers to relationally share their faith. A former pastor, church planter, and youth leader, Stier has trained over a million teens and youth leaders in the last twenty years and is the author of fifteen books.

Ron Hunter presents the Family Focused Youth Ministry Model. The goal is to show how church and home work in a complimentary fashion. This does not describe an integrated model but rather one where each age ministry builds on and connects with the others. Deuteronomy 6 commands parents to take the lead in the spiritual development of their kids. Youth pastors, children's ministers, and especially lead pastors are vital to transforming the church into a family ministry culture. Hunter is executive director and CEO of Randall House, publisher of D6 curriculum, and serves as director of the D6 Conference. He is currently completing his PhD at Dallas Baptist University and is the coauthor of Toy Box Leadership.

Brian Cosby presents the Reformed Youth Ministry Model. The goal is to equip parents to raise up children in submission to and under the teaching of ordained church leaders by means of the ministry of the Word, prayer, sacraments, service, and gospel community. Cosby (PhD, Australian College of Theology) is lead pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church (PCA) on Signal Mountain, Tennessee, and visiting professor of church history at Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta. He is the author of more than ten books.

Chap Clark presents the Adoption Model of Youth Ministry. The goal is to create an environment where every young person knows and experiences being cared for in an almost parental way as they prepare to enter into emerging adulthood.

Offering a model of critical thinking and respectful dialogue, this volume provides a balanced, irenic approach to a topic with which every church wrestles. It gives readers the resources they need to develop their own approach to youth ministry.

About the Series
The Youth, Family, and Culture series examines the broad categories involved in studying and caring for the needs of the young and is dedicated to the preparation and vocational strengthening of those who are committed to the spiritual development of adolescents.


Introduction: Why This Book?
Introducing the Authors
View One: Greg Stier
The Gospel Advancing View of Ministry
Responses to the Gospel Advancing View
Brian Cosby
Chap Clark
Fernando Arzola
Ron Hunter
Greg Stier's Response
View Two: Brian Cosby
The Reformed View of Youth Ministry
Responses to the Reformed View
Greg Stier
Chap Clark
Fernando Arzola
Ron Hunter
Brian Cosby's Response
View Three: Chap Clark
The Adoption View of Youth Ministry
Responses to the Adoption View
Greg Stier
Brian Cosby
Fernando Arzola
Ron Hunter
Chap Clark's Response
View Four: Fernando Arzola
The Ecclesial View of Youth Ministry
Responses to the Ecclesial View
Greg Stier
Brian Cosby
Chap Clark
Ron Hunter
Fernando Arzola's Response
View Five: Ron Hunter
The D6 View of Youth Ministry
Responses to the D6 View
Greg Stier
Brian Cosby
Chap Clark
Fernando Arzola
Ron Hunter's Response
Afterword: Where from Here?


"Teenagers need thoughtful, theologically grounded youth leaders more than ever. Youth Ministry in the 21st Century asks the right questions and helps leaders devise innovative responses. It's a new day in youth ministry, and the insights contained in these pages will lead us all toward more transformative ministry. Together."

Kara Powell, executive director, Fuller Youth Institute

"The practice of effective, life-changing youth ministry must include thoughtful reflection if we hope to endeavor to shape and embrace ministry strategies and practices that advance, rather than undermine, the gospel. As youth ministry models continue to develop and evolve, we all need to submit our closely held models to that beautiful process of iron rubbing against and sharpening iron. In the end, God will have made us all better for it! That's what happens in this thought-provoking book. This grace-filled, five-way conversation is powerful and challenging. Not only will it force you to evaluate and adjust your own model of ministry, it offers a model for how to generously and humbly 'talk amongst yourselves,' particularly with those with whom you don't agree."

Walt Mueller, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

"When I read a book by Chap Clark, I know I'm going to read a book that is thoughtful, theologically sound, and pulsing with the heart of a youthworker. And Youth Ministry in the 21st Century, with its iron-sharpening-iron approach, demonstrates Chap at his best, challenging us to think beyond our favorite youth ministry strategies to consider theological roots, ministry implications, and practical outcomes. You'll be pushed and pulled a bit in this book, but I'm confident these stretching exercises will only make your ministry stronger."

Duffy Robbins, professor of youth ministry, Eastern University

"I love this book. I felt like I was in a room listening in on an incredible dialogue with some of the finest thinkers in the field of youth ministry. All these youth specialists are brilliant and have a deep love for young people. There is something to learn on every page and from every viewpoint."

Jim Burns, president, HomeWord; executive director, HomeWord Center for Youth and Family, Azusa Pacific University

"I loved this book! I was engrossed by the sometimes sharp disagreements coupled with the contributors' grace and mutuality. The book was a real page turner in places. For example, I could hardly wait to see what Greg Stier had to say about Fernando Arzola's critique of his primary point. Youth Ministry in the 21st Century triggers deep reflection about models and motives and will facilitate advancement of that very kingdom enterprise, youth ministry."

Len Kageler, professor of youth and family studies, Nyack College

"Most youth pastors struggle to ever get beneath the day-to-day aspects of youth ministry. But if you want to get to the heart of why and what you do, get this book! The five views expressed allow anyone to explore, compare, and strive to live out a biblically based philosophy of youth ministry. This book belongs on the required reading lists of all youth ministry programs and deserves to be on the shelf of any youth pastor who wants a deeper understanding of where they are, how they got there, and where they might want to go in the future."

Allen Pointer, youth pastor, speaker, trainer, and owner of Point A Coaching

"I have been craving this discussion of youth ministry models with deep theological roots, pointed critiques, and passionate debate on the pros and cons of each view. I predict that Youth Ministry in the 21st Century will be a much-needed push beyond the glut of negative statistics about adolescents and their faith into deeper exploration of the theological underpinnings of next-generation ministry and reimagining of effective models of youth ministry. I cannot wait to use this book in my college and seminary classrooms."

Danny Mitchell, youth ministry coordinator, Committee on Discipleship Ministries, Presbyterian Church in America

"As a former youth pastor and Youth For Christ director turned educator, I welcome the critical thinking, assessment, consensus, collaboration, varying perspectives, and even the disagreement found in this book. And while I embrace discussions of theory, this project helpfully transforms theories into the building blocks of ministry practices, skill sets, and practical theology. Whether you have a high youth ministry IQ or you are in youth ministry 101, this book will challenge your thinking."

Steve Vandegriff, professor of Christian leadership and church ministries, Liberty University

The Author

  1. Chap Clark

    Chap Clark

    Chap Clark (PhD, University of Denver), one of today's leading voices in youth and young adult ministry, is senior pastor at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California. He is also president of ParenTeen, works closely with Young...

    Continue reading about Chap Clark


"The beauty of any multi-view book, and this one is no exception, is the debate that is imbedded in the format of the book. . . . These particular authors, while gracious in their critique of one another do not pull any punches and examine one another's views with candor and nuance. This makes for a very thought-provoking read that sparks critical thinking and illuminates the imagination. . . . This is an outstanding book for anyone concerned with the future of student ministry and wrestling with the various perspectives on youth ministry that are emerging in the 21st century."

Mark Cannister,

Journal of Youth Ministry

"Presenting these five views and discussing them is not aimed at completeness but at challenging readers to examine what youth ministry is in their own contexts and also what it should be. . . . This results in a book that is worth reading as well as highly informative and challenging. . . . The challenge of ending up with a stable and solid position is left to the reader, who is very well served by these five distinct views from five inspiring authors. . . . This is undoubtedly a worthwhile contribution to the field of youth ministry. . . . I am convinced that Youth Ministry in the 21st Century helps both youth ministers and youth ministry scholars to reflect on their own views and normative positions with regard to youth ministry practices as well as on those of others. Furthermore, I believe that the book is very helpful in deepening the conversations that students and teachers have in youth ministry courses."

Jos de Kock,

Journal of Youth and Theology

"The five views offered are interesting and one will find points of agreement and disagreement with each of them. The responses are respectful, engaging, and raised valid concerns. . . . Youth workers and professors of youth ministry will find the perspectives offered in Five Views intriguing."

Darwin K. Glassford,

Christian Education Journal

"[The authors have] drawn on biblical and theological scholarship, along with current research, to produce for us provocative and encouraging approaches to the crisis of youth evangelism and long-term youthful spiritual formation in this century. . . . May this book and this article encourage the positive and provide a needed challenge to improve upon what we are missing in ministering to youth."

Dean Borgman,

Africanus Journal