progressive youth ministryFor over a year  I have been floating the idea of a conference on progressive youth ministry, and I’m pleased to say that this idea is finally coming together. I’ve been working with Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt (JoPa Productions) on a conference that we’ll host at Fourth Presbyterian Church in the spring of 2014.

My hope is that we will bring together the best youth ministry practitioners and scholars to describe what is unique about a progressive approach to youth ministry, and inspire those who already practice this kind of ministry or who feel called to do so. Think of this as the perfect storm of youth ministry, progressive theology, postmodern thought, post-Christendom reality checks, and the emerging church conversation.

As we work on the agenda for this conference, I want to know:

  • What issues or topics do you think we should cover?
  • What are your biggest questions about progressive youth ministry?
  • Who would you most like to hear speak at a conference like this?

John W. Vest

John is a "church hacker" attempting to overcome the limitations of church as we know it. To connect with him and learn more about his work, please visit

Reader Interactions


  1. John,

    I’m stoked you’re getting this together. Sadly, in this day and age, it seems it takes the resources of someone at 4th Pres to do something. My biggest question, especially given the flood of borderline-fundamentalist and literalist bibliolatry in youth ministry curriculum, what are some ways that other folks are pushing their youth to put their faith into action on a daily basis, beyond the mission trips and special youth group functions. And how can we best walk with our youth on their faith journeys as they discern their relationship with God, the Church, and culture?

    But, I guess more fundamental (poor choice of words?) might be: what does it mean to be a “progressive” Christian in this day and age and in the U.S., let alone in a global village? I know the biggies: non-literal interpretation of scripture, a sense of spirituality about the world forged in the walking in the Way of Jesus to understand and engage in what God is doing in us and the world (maybe others would express it differently?), but what makes what we do “progressive” and not “emergent” or some other label?

    I’m sure there are a plethora of other things, but it would be just great to hear from other progressive folks in youth ministry as to what they are doing and what resources they might be using (maybe just folks in their own church, no curriculum?).

    Who would I like to hear from? That is a great question because I don’t know too many self-identified progressives in youth ministry.

  2. Topics: confirmation (I’m sure you’ve got this one already), Sunday School curriculum, different models for youth ministry (besides the Sunday evening youth group meeting), sexuality curriculum/programming, perhaps something for the youth themselves at some point?

  3. Let’s discuss the home congregation’s support of its college students. Our congregation(First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights) has been actively addressing this for the last two years. We added college ministries under the umbrella of youth ministries.


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