The Next 100 Years

The Next 100 Years

Duncan Macleod


The Future of Youth Ministry

Duncan Macleod takes a stab at
future trends in youth ministry…

New models

It is clear that few churches are running ‘successful youth groups’. It is just as obvious that the vast majority of young people in New Zealand are unlikely to pour into the narrow band of youth groups that are being offered. We have a growing number of subcultures within youth culture in Aotearoa New Zealand. We’ll need fresh and courageous models of youth ministry developed for the local context. Three examples: adventure camping, school teams, one-to-one mentoring, three models that have been used in the past but are now being re-invented.

New technology

In this century we’ve seen the arrival of telephone, wireless radio, motor cars and television in most households, internet-connected computers in most businesses and many homes, Projection technology has brought us slides, movies, videos and data. The next century is likely to bring many more innovations in the area of virtual reality – making video and holograph conferencing commonplace. Will churches move beyond the overhead projector?


There is not likely to be a master plan or unifying movement. If anything, we’ll see a huge variety of approaches alongside each other. Hopefully we’ll be able to learn from each other and work together.


Believe it or not, the brakes on youth ministry will continue to come from church members, including parents concerned about the safety of their children and leaders concerned about political and theological correctness. Many congregations will close down, and others will start up. That’s not easy for anyone to watch.


It won’t get any easier. Churches and youth ministry organisations will have to broaden their ideas about what age people have to be to get involved in youth ministry. Older veterans will be getting back into the ranks alongside young people themselves.

Small groups

The fragmentation of families and communities won’t slow down without the involvement of committed groups of people who are prepared to live out the hard work of being community in small groups. Being flash and trendy will never replace being faithful and caring.


What we used to work with fifteen-year-olds, thirteen-year-olds are now finding old-hat. It doesn’t mean that we are getting any more mature. The boundary between child and adolescent is on the move ∆ partly because of exposure to the adult world on television. At the same time adolescence is being prolonged.

New generations

If you thought getting used to Generation X was hard, think about how many more generations we will have in your life time. Churches will either get more flexible or they’ll get older.

Prayer and worship

Young people haven’t changed too much. The church has been slow to recognise that experience of the real God is central to faith. And that experience doesn’t come in a book. We’ll see more youth congregations started as young people lose patience with a church out of touch with their generation.