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.