I have served in youth ministry in the past few years. I've given thought to intergenerational ministry, and have always had a concern that the widespread, accepted approach to youth ministry programming as a "subset" component in the life of the church was undermining our end goal of raising up disciples of Jesus Christ. Students are not exposed to mature Christians, or the wisdom of the generations, and thus lack the resources to imagine for themselves what an exemplary Christian life might look like.
I wanted my students to be in worship with a full complement of the saints, both young and old. And I wanted my students to have leadership within those worship gatherings. So do most youth ministers. But our approach to separating the generations has, at times, drawn people into segregated fellowships at the cost of a collective gathering where our witness is more robust.
This quote from Kara Powell, executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary, appeared on CT's Out of Ur blog a few days ago, and captures well the development of youth ministry in the last half century and what I can only hope will be the future of youth ministry (bold emphasis mine):
"[The church] realized in the 1940s that we were not offering teens enough focused attention. So what did we do? We started offering them too much. All of a sudden churches had adult pastors and youth pastors, adult worship teams and youth worship teams, adult mission trips and youth mission trips. And there's a place for that. But we've ended up segregating--and I use that word intentionally--our kids from the rest of the church. Now we tend to think that we can outsource the care of our kids to designated experts, the youth and children's workers.... I think the future of youth ministry is intergenerational."
The comments on this thread are interesting. Check it out.