An Opinion on Youth Ministry

In March, I turn 35. I have been involved in Youth Ministry in some way since I was about 14, either as a participant as a leader. Even though for nearly nine years I have had the weekly responsibility of leading and preaching to the whole congregation, I have also dedicated four to six hours a week to the youth ministry. I thought I would give some of my thoughts on what works…

  1. Youth ministry has to be about God. Knowing Jesus is the most freeing thing in the entire world, and no one needs it more than a high school student. Being a kid is almost always a “me-centered” experience. Students are always worrying about a boyfriend or girlfriend, grades, reputation, the future, being happy, looking good, and on and on and on. When a student understands that God is real, it shows them that there is One who is more important than themselves. Students can be set free from the never-ending need to satisfy their ego. Instead they can serve others, think about the big questions of life, and worship a God who is big enough for them.
  2. Youth ministry cannot be about games. I am not sure where the idea came from that youth group is about playing games together. What a mistake! As soon as a student can drive, they can find a better way to have fun than go to church. Church is where we lead our students into a relationship with Jesus. It is the one thing we have that the world doesn’t, it is the one thing that the students actually need, and it is one thing we are commanded to do.
  3. Youth ministry needs to be a place where kids can be real. Students are coming from lots of different places and backgrounds. Most of them have terrible language when they are with their friends. They are by nature rebelling against parents and exploring the world around them. They are sneaking around, and if they aren’t experimenting with sex their friends most definitely are. Although we do not want to encourage this sort of thing, youth group has to be a place where they can be themselves. I try to consistently teach about the life God desires for them, but I also pick my battles carefully with regard to language and behavior. If they can’t drop a cussword around you without being severely reprimanded, how are they going to open up about things that are really far worse than that?
  4. Youth ministry needs to place high expectations on students. This may seem contrary to the previous point, but it’s not. Education Theory teaches that the number one predictor of student outcomes is the expectation level put on the student. Although they need to feel that they can be themselves, they also need to know that they are held to the highest standard. They can read the Bible daily. They can pray. They can be a moral exemplar in their friend group. This world tells us we should have a prolonged period of adolescence and immaturity, but when students get a taste of “Godly Ambition” they won’t want to waste their lives any longer on these empty things which don’t fulfill them.

If you have any other thoughts, I’d love to hear them! Please pray for all of the young ones coming up through the next generation. God bless, Pastor Brian