The church is struggling with the gap between the church and adolescents. Over the last decades, the problem of ‘bridging the gap’ was often outsourced to youth ministry in different forms, such as special youth workers, faith-learning programs, local activities, national events, holidays, and education of youth leaders. However, the overall conclusion is that over the last ten years, traditional youth ministry forms cannot function as the bridge they should be; the gap is too deep and too wide, or perhaps the metaphor of the gap is no longer appropriate to describe the current situation regarding the church and adolescents.
This book aims to provide a creative and innovative contribution to the search for new paradigms in youth ministry. This book shows that small groups are very important for adolescents. The natural social environment greatly influences adolescents in their process of transformation from childhood to adulthood, including faith socialization. The emphasis on the natural social environment can be defined as follows: “Being goes before organizing, and the individual cannot ‘be’ without others.” Briefly, “being together as a basic given.” The conclusion of this book is that youth ministry needs a twofold turn: a turn from the individual to the communal, and a turn from an organized environment to a natural environment.
Harmen van Wijnen (1967) studied Theology at the University of Utrecht and Protestant Theological University in The Netherlands. He has been director of several youth organizations within the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. He is an ordained minister and frequently leads youth services throughout the country. Since 2013, he has been president of CHE, the Christian College Ede.