Postmodernism – What is real?

The third question that must be asked is, “What is real.” This question is on the minds of today’s students. The one issue that is keeping many ministries stagnant or dead is the lack of leaders being real. Doug Fields in "First Two Years in Youth Ministry" explains it this way, “If you pretend to be something that you are not, it is dishonest, hypocritical, and damaging to students because they will eventually find out the truth.” Students are dying for a caring environment that meets them at their point of need. Authentic relationships are the key to successful ministry and will produce servants of Jesus. Jonathon McKee says, “he often met people’s physical needs first, which opened the door to meeting their spiritual needs. Jesus was a master at relational evangelism: building a relationship, developing trust, and earning the right to be heard.”  Student ministry must answer the questions that students are seeking.

Meeting students at their point of need is being relevant, it does not mean leaving out the Word of God, but dropping critical attitude and tradition. The emphasis is upon loving people enough to hear them out and build a lasting relationship. In the book "Being Leaders" it says, “Godly character is the foundation for Christian leadership, the essential qualifying element. Because it earns people’s respect and, most important, produces trust, character is the most crucial factor in relationships.”

Methods must change in order to reach this generation of teenagers who base their decisions and lives on feelings and peer pressure. Richard Dunn explains, “communion with a God who can do what they can not do for themselves: provide ultimate love, hope and meaning in a world littered with the residue of religious disillusionment.”  Student ministry must be a place of safety, love, and acceptance. An environment of openness will help lead people to life-change.

Reaching this generation for Jesus has to be rooted in the truth of the gospel. Students are looking for authenticity from trusted leaders. Mike Yacconelli states, “When we treat people as individuals, we are not only treating them as authentic people and being authentic ourselves, we are showing that Christ is authentic.”

Authenticity must be exemplified to impact students for a lifetime of serving Christ. Authentic, relational ministry is the wheels that student ministry must ride on to be effective in the long run.


Jonathon McKee - Do they Run When They See You Coming? Reaching Out to Unchurched Teenagers

Doug Fields - Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry

Dustin Malphurs - Being Leaders: The Nature of Authentic Christian Leadership

Richard Dunn  Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students: A Guide for Youth Workers, Pastors, Teachers & Campus Ministers

Mike Yacconelli - The CORE Realities of Youth Ministry: Nine Biblical Principles That Mark Healthy Youth Ministries

Postmodernism - What is of value?

In order to answer the second question of, "what is value," student ministry must be built upon genuine relationships. Many students have internalized their need of acceptance and purpose into financial and material success. People are what God values, not worldly success of financial pleasure (John 12:47). It is an awesome privilege that Jesus uses fragile, sinful human beings to carry out His purposes on earth. Jesus always included His disciples. He duplicated Himself by not only showing them how to live but gave them a shared vision. Humans are the ultimate value to God and through all aspects of the ministry this truth must be implemented through Christ-like relationships. Redemption that is biblical values people. We are created in God’s image but without repentance through faith in Christ, there is a broken relationship. The key is to lead students to be transformed by Christ through warm and encouraging relationships.

In Rainer’s book, he explains the reality of the Bridger generation, “They have ‘God’ on their minds. They key questions is: What kind of God will they find?” The need for feeling valued is evident in today’s teenagers and the church must have an answer for their heart’s cries.


The Bridger Generation: America’s Second Largest Generation, What they Believe, How to Reach Them. Thom Rainer

Postmodernism - What is truth?

In order to answer the question of, “what is real?” there is a need to look at today’s belief system. Absolute truth is being pushed aside and relativism is becoming the main philosophy of life. Josh McDowell states in Beyond Belief to Convictions, “our kids need to see our lives as living examples of the wisdom and practically of a life that is built on biblical principles of right and wrong.”  If people deny absolute truth, that is an absolute statement. Truth conforms to reality; Jesus exemplified this on the cross and through His life on earth. Living by example is one of the most powerful way to impact this generation with the gospel.

The key application for student ministry is to listen to their issues. Asking wise questions like Jesus did reveals their understanding of truth. John 14:6 says, “Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” Jesus is the foundation of truth. In order to engage the culture, student ministry should come along side teenagers who are struggling in this pluralistic society. In Richard Dunn's Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students it says, "The college freshmen can finish a prayerful meditation from Psalms, call the Psychic hotline to get an update on what might be in her romantic future and then participate in an evening yoga class.” Students are looking in all areas for direction and fulfillment. This should be found in the local church.

Christians can no longer put their heads in the sand of condemnation. We are to respond as Jesus did with the outcast Zaccheus in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost." Jesus’ heart is to see His prize creation become redeemed through His blood on the cross. What this world needs is not more self-help books or 12 step programs, but a REAL relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus’ death and resurrection is REAL and RELEVANT in every society, every time, and every generation.


Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students - Richard Dunn

Beyond Belief to Convictions - Josh McDowell