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The class of '00 has entered the halls of high school. Says one member of this freshman class: "We will be the turn-of-the-millennium generation. That rocks."

This generation does, indeed, "rock." Therein lies the challenge to the church. The "2000 kids" will be the torchbearers of the next millennium*, which gives them a certain "mystical significance," says Dean Borgman, who holds the Culpepper Chair of Youth Ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. They are participants in what he calls "the second great watershed" for youth culture. And the repercussions are causing us to rethink how churches do youth ministry.

The first watershed, Borgman says, took place in the forties, when the concept of "youth culture" was born. Following the Depression and World War II, and in conjunction with the advancement of the industrial age, a harvest of young people crashed onto the scene with free time, extra money, and energy to burn. Football teams, cheerleaders, bobby socks, and jukeboxes all came together to create a new "youth culture." Television had not yet arrived, so these young people—as a former Youth for Christ worker put it—"didn't know what to do on a Saturday night." The churches were not addressing "youth ministry," so to fill the "entertain ment void" and reach young people with the gospel, "God raised up organizations like Young Life and Youth for Christ and people like Jack Wyrtzen," says Borgman.

And so the youth rally was born. Serving up Saturday evening entertainment (in a neutral setting), the trumpet trios or big bands were followed by an evangelistic message. This model introduced what has become a long-standing model for youth ministry—still much in force today.

But a second watershed occurred ...

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In the Magazine

February 3, 1997

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