What is the role of systems thinking in youth ministry? How do we overuse content thinking? Discussions from Chapter Four

Sustainable Youth Ministry is written almost exclusively from a systems perspective. Mark DeVries tackles the intricacies of administrating a youth program and gives the youth worker little leeway in the process. At many paragraphs’ end, it seems that a father is giving his child a talking-to. And that may be just what the youth worker needs: someone telling them that they are doing it all wrong and exactly how they can make it right.

DeVries threads a profound question throughout chapter four and the subsequent chapters: Have you paid any attention to how you do what you do? He asks the youth worker to take a close look at the environment of the youth ministry. Do the leaders trust one another? Is there clarity between paid staff and volunteer staff? Is there ownership of the ministry beyond those in paid positions?

Devries isn’t saying that the content of our ministry isn’t ultimately important. He isn’t saying, “It doesn’t matter what you teach.” He is saying that the sustainability of a ministry and its ability to continue to share the gospel in a community context relies on a system that works.

Questions for your pondering and responding:

1.       What do you perceive to be a proper balance in systems thinking and content thinking?

2.       Have you over-emphasized “content thinking” in your ministry planning?

3.       What needs attention in your youth ministry system?

Find more Book Club discussions on Sustainable Youth Ministry:

Sustainable Youth Ministry, pt. 1

Sustainable Youth Ministry, pt. 3

Sustainable Youth Ministry, pt. 4

Sustainable Youth Ministry, pt. 5