3 Keys to Successful Youth Ministry (Newsletter 2-5 Article)

W. D. Hilton



Does the following conversation sound familiar?

Youth Pastor: “How can I take my youth ministry from struggling to successful?”

Expert: “Good question. Next question?”

Of course it does! Sometimes the question comes in the form of “how can I take our student ministry to the next level?”, but either way the reason this sounds familiar is because we have all asked this question at one point or another. Perhaps the reason you are reading this at the moment is because you are asking this question right now. It is my goal with this post to not be the “expert” from above, but rather be a fellow comrade with a small bit of insight to help give your youth ministry the little boost it needs to move to the next level.

Over the course of time that I have worked with students in youth ministry, I have found that there are mainly 3 keys to successful youth ministry. If these 3 keys are taken care of, then other mistakes can be made and everything will still flow smoothly. The moment one of these three keys is out of sync is the moment the momentum comes to a screeching halt. When we find ourselves in a virtual “rut”, the chances are high that we have dropped one of these keys.

Now, before I dive into these 3 keys let me say that it is of the utmost importance for us to have the divine favor of God on everything that we do. Ultimately without the hand of God working through us everything we do will fail. So remember if nothing is working the first place to check is your personal relationship with God. Since we have now covered the prerequisite, without further ado I present to you my 3 keys to successful youth ministry.

Key # 1 – Atmosphere

Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere! The atmosphere of the Earth is so important to life that if the atmosphere is not right humans will die. Sicknesses and illnesses can spread rapidly through cities if their atmosphere becomes polluted with toxins. Atmosphere is extremely important to life!

Just as atmosphere is important to human life, atmosphere is also vital to a healthy vibrant student ministry. Atmosphere is important to the group as a whole and to individual events. During the course of an individual event you can make plenty of mistakes and it still be deemed a success, as long as the atmosphere is right. This brings us to the important question… how do I make the atmosphere right? The answer to that question can ultimately only be answered by you, but I can provide a few examples.

  • Lighting – Lighting can single handily determine the tone of the atmosphere. I recommend acquiring LED lights to be used as atmosphere enhancements. With the placement of just 2 LED lights you can completely change the dynamics of any size room.
  • Music – Music is used everywhere to create the atmosphere. They don’t play techno music in Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse because that isn’t the atmosphere they’re trying to achieve. FYI: Don’t play Southern Gospel music in a dodge ball event!
  • Detail – I am O.C.D about chairs being straight and everything being centered up in the room. The smallest details are important! When students walk in a room where the chairs are out of line and everything is just a little “off”, subconsciously they make the statement “Well this must not be very important.” Details for the flow of certain types of events should be typed and handed out before the event ever starts. When details are lacking, the atmosphere falters.

Key # 2 – Outside the Box

Be creative! Youth pastors are some of the most creative individuals on the planet! Why? Because we have to be. Teenagers are a fickle group of people, but the youth pastor that can think outside the box has an edge.

This key has to do with new ideas and new approaches. As Apostolics we do not strive to be “relevant” in the sense that we change our doctrine, but we do need to strive to be “relevant” in our methods. Students are always trending toward the newest modern hip widget that comes out. A youth ministry that can always be “relevant” will be successful in its attempt to keep the attention of its students.

Don’t be afraid to try something new! Take an old idea, tweak it and see what happens. If it fails just toss it out and try something different the next time. By the way, teens are extremely forgiving because if you fail it means you are a human just like them. Its time to take what you’re doing and change it! Think outside the box! Or bun if you’re Taco Bell…

Key # 3 – Rule # 1

My third and finally key in the 3 keys to successful youth ministry is my Rule # 1: Have fun! I won’t explain this here because I already wrote an entire post dedicated to it. Just click HERE to read it.

These are my 3 keys to successful youth ministry. If you’re stuck in a “rut” why don’t you give these a try and see what happens! And when you do, feel free to comment back on this post to encourage the rest of us in our journey… As A Youth Pastor.

From:  www.asayouthpastor.com  May 2014.

The above article, “3 Keys to Successful Youth Ministry” was written by W. D. Hilton. The article was excerpted from www.asayouthpastor.com.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”