10 Reasons Why I'm in Youth Ministry
People seem to have looked at youth ministry as "glorified babysitting" or a stepping stone to "Real" ministry. When people ask "Why youth ministry?" I answer, "Why not?" Here is a list of top ten reasons to consider supporting a youth ministry within your church.
1. Not only are youth the church of the future but they are the Church today. It helps to train, equip, and rebuke them in righteousness while helping them know God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
2. Youth Ministry helps Students to "Go ...." More than ever, young people are willing to be stretched, used, and challenged to step out of their comfort zones. Mission Trips and Service Projects are very important. Trips with your student ministry with groups like YWAM, CIY, Group, and others help students and adults alike to "Go ye into all the world ..." (Matt. 28:19,20). [Discuss in the forums]
3. Youth Ministry is now seen as a need or a "must-have" within the church. It helps young people lead balanced lives from the mental, social, physical, and spiritual aspects, and it clarifies the expectations of them.
4. It makes disciples (Matt. 28:19,20). The stats say that 80% of Christians become so by the age of 18, with influences such as conventions, camps, retreats.
5. It teaches (Matt. 28:19, 20). " ...teaching them to obey all things ..." This aspect of Youth Ministry covers education in our Bible Schools, our Bible Colleges, and our campus ministries.
6. It helps simplify the Gospel. Where else can you teach the basics of the faith and leave a heritage (Acts 4:12; Hebrews 11)?
7. It teaches unity (John 17). Youth ministry must and does function with the rest of the body of Christ. It works with parents, relatives and the family of God (1 Cor. 12). I recommend the book "Parents' Guide to Spiritual Mentoring of Teens:. Building your Child's Faith through the Adolescent Years," Joe White, JimWeidmann. Tyndale House, 2001.
8. It builds community. Where else can you love God and love kids? Be silly; know that God is there. I know Jesus spending a lot of time with his disciples was one of the basics of forming community (Mark 12:28-34).
9. It is relational. I know a young lady who has been teaching Bible School for 67 years. Why? Her educational style has changed but her relationships with those she teaches has not. She loves her Lord, and loves the youth she teaches.
10. It is life-changing. The impact, the purpose, the philosophy, support of families, and crossing the generations makes it all worth it.
So Now we Know Why Youth Ministry. Now what?
One has to envision what their youth ministry is going to look like. The premise or the purpose behind the reasons for their youth ministry will help determine which direction they will go.
Here are some practical suggestions to start with.
1. Ask yourself the tough questions. What are we doing right now? What can we change? How do we do it? What is the purpose? What is our vision, philosophy or mission statement for the youth ministry here?
2. Set some goals. Recruit. Have job descriptions. Screen your workers, train them, have a budget etc. The "Youth Ministry Management Tools" book from Youth Specialties comes in handy here.
3. Have ways to achieve the objectives. Do we have the staff? Volunteers? Part-time? Full time? What do the youth want? Will there be mission trips, conventions, classes, worship, and service projects? How will we support the ministry to families? Be flexible and balanced.
4. Follow through on your objectives. Start small and build from there (Rome wasn't built in a day either).
5. Don't be discouraged. Youth Ministry is not easy, nor is it meant to be. What you win them to is what you have to keep them with. If it is all fun and games, guess what you get to continue doing? Make the ministry your church's, have them own it. Again, flexibility and balance come into play.
6. Actually this should have been number 1. Get the support of the parents. Parents and families need to be ministered to as well.
7. Have some accountability. Set boundaries, rules etc. Never one adult alone with a youth and so forth. I recommend the book "Better Safe Than Sued" and Brotherhood Insurance's "Reducing the Risk".
8. Get the leadership behind you. Nothing makes or breaks a ministry more than if the leaders are behind it or not.
9. Communicate. Overcommunicate. Nothiing does better than to have lots of PR. Sometimes, it helps to have some of those elderly ladies hear that you have needs for refreshments. Plus it gets your light out to the community.
10. Get some resources that can be adopted, adapted to met your students' own faith journey needs.
So we discussed the "Why?" and the "What?" Now, the "Who?" and the "Where?" are easy. "Who?" as in "Who can be involved in youth ministry?" Anyone that loves God and loves youth. We actually do an application and interview so that they know our mission, beliefs, and philosophy.
The "Where?" is at your local congregation.
The last question seems to be "How?" as in "How do I do Youth Ministry?" Where do I get some resources? Doing Youth Ministry depends on your definition and purpose for the ministry. Ours is based upon the LGLO principle. To Love God, Love Others. We are a church which tries to have students develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and along with other youth and adults establish a Christian community.
We do this through our own objectives of the 4Cs in which we have students Come, Connect, Commit and be Commissioned. Currently we have students at various stages of this. As for resources and sites, there are plenty out there including http://www.youthspecialties.com/, www.youthpastor.com, www.grouppublishing.com, etc.
An unknown author once wrote "To touch the past, touch a rock. To touch the present, touch a rose. To touch the future, touch a child." We who are involved in youth ministry are doing just that. Touching students lives with the love of God. May we continue to press on being the hospital for sinners, and not letting our youth ministry be some museum or clique for saints.