The beginning of a series answering the question... Did Jonathan Edwards invent Youth Ministry?

For the next few Fridays I thought I'd start a series on Jonathan Edwards and Youth Ministry.  So here's a taster of what is to come in the following weeks!

‘Pinpointing the genesis of youth ministry is not as simple as one might imagine.’[1]  It has been argued that it began with Jesus’ own disciples and has been a feature of church life ever since.  Some argue that it began in the 1880s with the Society of Christian Endeavour, while still others that the rise of Young Life in the early 1940s saw the genesis of youth ministry.[2]  With this in mind we turn to our question, ‘Is it defensible to argue that Jonathan Edwards invented youth ministry?’  It has been argued that because of Jonathan Edwards’s extensive and specific work with the youth of Northampton that he is the forerunner, or inventor of modern day youth ministry.  In order to assess this claim, we must first get clear in our minds what we mean by ‘youth ministry’.  Following this we will then examine the context of Puritan family life prior to the ministry of Edwards in order to determine if Jonathan Edwards did something new in his time.  Secondly, continuing to look at the social setting of Edwards’s ministry, the changing setting of Northampton in the 1730s and 40s will be outlined, especially regarding the youth of the town.  We will then examine how Edwards responded to these changes and challenges in his ministry.  Having examined the evidence, the claim that Edwards invented youth ministry will be assessed.

I'm looking forward to unpacking this all with you over the next few Fridays!

[1] Mark W. Cannister, ‘Youth Ministry’s Historical Context: The Education and Evangelism of Young People’, in Starting Right: Thinking Theologically about Youth Ministry (ed. Kenda Creasy Dean, Chap Clark, and Dave Rahn; Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan/Youth Specialities Academic, 2001), 77.
[2] Cannister, ‘Youth Ministry’s Historical Context: The Education and Evangelism of Young People’, 77.