Are Ken Moser and Tim Hawkins similar or opposite?

Recently I attended a training day with Tim Hawkins where he encouraged youth ministry leaders to preach the Gospel, break open the Word with young people and see discipleship as the key.  Then I attended a lecture with Ken Moser where he suggested that we should do Christian things in youth ministry such as preach the Gospel and break open the Word.  Whilst I thought they were similar in their core message it surprised me that at least one training college sees the two as polar opposite models of youth ministry.

From my experience of youth ministry these two “experts” are in the same ball park, they are both focused on preaching the Gospel.  Sure they have had to differentiate their model, either because context or to sell books, but they are very similar.  When you contrast them to a Taize style youth ministry or social justice youth ministry, Ken and Tim are no different.  It is like Ken and Tim are different Rugby League teams with different styles of play but compared to Motor Racing they are the same.

In my opinion Ken and Tim support a “Jesus preaching, bible believing” style of youth ministry that puts them in the same group.  Your style of preaching doesn’t make you polar opposites.  Whether you allow fun at your youth group or you are more serious doesn’t make you polar opposites.  At this point I want to recognise that the two models are not identical, there are differences.  I just don’t think they are opposite models for youth ministry.

Why is this important to write about?  Rather than becoming a fan of the Tim Hawkins model or a fan of the Ken Moser model we should become fans of Jesus.  I know that sounds obvious but when we spent our time comparing and contrasting two models of “Jesus preaching, Bible believing” youth ministry we are no better than the people who spend all their time arguing of the virtues of the football team they support.

So having met Tim and Ken personally I like a bit of both of their youth ministry styles.  I like that they point young people to Jesus and encourage leaders to break open the Word of God.  I will continue to learn from both men as I grow youth ministry in my context, I hope you can too.  Learn from both styles of youth ministry rather than picking one over the other.

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2 thoughts on “Are Ken Moser and Tim Hawkins similar or opposite?

  1. Chris Bowditch says:

    My view. Is that Moser’s ‘model’ fits into the ‘build them up’ part of Hawkins model. And therefore Moser is good, but he’s lacking something… That’s my take. Your thoughts?

    • Mark McDonald says:

      Moser is missing something, but there is no perfect model in Youth Ministry, but if you say you have “it” you sell more books. Perhaps I should say I have “it” to get more blog readers.
      I agree that in stating we should “do Christian things” Moser has implied we can define those things which aren’t Christian. I think eating pizza isn’t “Christian”, it is neutral so should we stop eating pizza at youth group? Maybe on health or finacial grounds but not theologically. I think both men would argue against using pizza to attract young people. Perhaps it is just the “professional youth ministers” who care enough to find the differences. I don’t think a young person is going to leave because a youth group follows one or the other. “You use Moser, I’m out of here, where can I find a Hawkins youth group?”

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