Radically local but intentionally global

Our understanding of mission within youth ministry should be highly contextualized at the local level but also open to learning from the global context. The challenge within this approach is to practice co-mission: seeing ourselves as called to share what we have with others but also ready to receive what others have to share and teach us (both in local and global contexts). Locally this means that youth ministry needs to work cooperatively with partners already “on the ground” in our contexts who know which needs need to be met. Youth workers will also need to widen their focus to the needs of youth worldwide and to resist the current paradigm in which the majority of youth ministry resources are serving a very small percentage of the world’s youth. Youth workers will have to consider how the church is called to respond in partnership with the growing segment of underserved or un-served youth populations.

Implications for training and education:

  • Study of missiology
  • Study of the contextualization of mission
  • Understanding of missio dei
  • Providing immersion experiences with ministries engaged in co-mission (YouthWorks, Center for Student Missions, Passport)
  • Study of cultural intelligence
  • Instruction in how to live as a Christian in a pluralistic world without giving up our Christian identity (and while honoring the identities of others)


Other Views:

  • Can’t lose that “worldwide” also means “rural,” “urban,” etc.
  • Be sure the short term experience reflects the long term strategies
  • Could the idea that “mission” happens in less than 10 days be building a paradigm of superficial spiritual formation in teens?
  • Could we be circumventing the long term efforts of comprehensive missions for the next generation?


  • How do we help youth ministry resources and efforts to flow to underserved populations?
  • How do we resource underserved populations with the funds and tools to create indigenous resources that could be instructive?
  • Can church and para-church team up and work together in a community?
  • What if short term missions were “discovery trips” rather than projects”?
  • What if they were pilgrimages, too?
  • How can we share our collective experiences without imperialistic overtones?
  • How do we move youth from simply consuming mission (Andy Root) and move into missional lifestyles?
  • How do we practice mission in a way that truly honors the host and allows the oppressed to “call the score” for liberative praxis rather than flow out from places and relationships of power?

Possible Answers:

  • International relationships with “other” churches in different contexts
  • Long term partnerships instead of short term missions to create long term relationships that change things

Training and Education:

  • Missional formation while on a mission
  • First do no harm
  • Put youth ministry students in situations where they learn from others in diverse contexts!
  • We need to communicate strongly that mission is not a trip—it is who we are not what we do. Mission is not what we do it is who we are.

Existing Resources:

Tools and Resources Needed:

  • New paradigms for goals/outcomes of short term experiences
  • Diversity needed in our ministry experiences regardless of location
  • Develop relationship with others outside or our comfort zone
  • Allowing churches and ministries to work together and share experiences learning from each other
  • YIM—youth and young adults in missions conference
  • Speakers and workshops and city of opportunity youth leaders and students have opportunity to gather worship and serve in a diverse community.  Also offer scholarships based on diversity on ethnic, economic, and other basis.