In the UK it’s called “20s and 30s ministry.” In Kenya we call it “youth ministry.” In many UK churches it is “the missing generation.” While the 20-29 age group makes up 13% of the whole UK population, within the church they make up only 7% (Special English Church Census, 2006). And as most of these church-going 20-somethings are going to big London churches, the profile in the rest of the UK is dire with many smaller rural churches having no-one between high schoolers and their parents. In Kenya the picture is far less bleak but Hosea Walubengo found (research published in Conversation Magazine Issue 3) that, despite 15-29 year-olds making up 29% of the Kenyan population, they made up only 10% of churches surveyed. Just as in the UK the churches in London give a rosier picture, so in Kenya the larger Nairobi churches with thriving youth ministries can give a false picture that everything is ok.
Kay Mumford gives a very concise (150 page), very practical and very comprehensive guide to running a youth ministry that focuses on people and genuine gospel growth.
Reviewed by Ben Epps, pastor-elder at Longmeadow Evangelical Church:
Subtitled as ‘a practical guide to 20s–30s ministry’, this concise book covers huge swathes of practical detail on developing an ‘every–member ministry’ and making godly young disciples of Christ. Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ model offered, the standpoint is decidedly British conservative evangelical.
The book has numerous extended quotes from various seasoned ministers who’ve run groups to disciple adults under 40, as well as from those who’ve grown greatly within such groups. Each chapter begins with a biblical quote or two to give the undergirding principles; then there are copious bullet–points which give thorough practical application and examples.
The book begins by outlining why there is a crying need for UK churches to strategically disciple those in their 20s and 30s, and then gives numerous ideas about how to structure this into the life of the church.
It also outlines the common idols facing this age–group today, and how to develop one–to–one discipleship, an evangelistic strategy, a loving community, and a church where everyone is active in service.
The final chapter covers the development of future leaders, followed by useful appendices on various event ideas, UK courses and salient books.
This reader particularly enjoyed the chapter on pastoral issues, which included punchy analysis and then testimonies from those struggling with issues such as pornography, depression, anorexia, singleness and self–harming.
Whilst avoiding clichés and quick fixes, some pointers are given for those trying to bring pastoral wisdom to bear on such issues. Sadly, the treatment of counselling was rather dismissive, but perhaps that reflects the influence of secular thought in much that passes for counselling in the UK church at this time. Nonetheless, emphasis was rightly given to the prime place of pastoral care within a loving church family.
In short, this is a superb practical manual, which would greatly aid most UK churches to develop their ministry among the 20s and 30s. Additionally, it would probably be a useful aid in giving any church a radical MOT in how it practically seeks to make disciples of people, no matter what their age.