How Do You Administer a Youth Program?
K. Maynard Head
The 1980s have been a difficult period to establish a church youth ministry that works. There is not enough time, it seems, to plan and administer a good program which ministers effectively to the busy youth of today. Then too, it is often difficult to find someone who will take the initiative to get involved in ministry to youth.
It does take time to administer an effective youth program, but don’t become discouraged. The youth of today want a youth ministry and there are persons who want to work with them.
If your church does not have a successful youth ministry and you want to develop one, let me suggest ways I have found will work.
Seek out dedicated volunteers who will give of themselves. A pastor cannot do all the things required of most youth leaders. Trying to keep up with an energetic group of young people will soon wear out the best of us. Appeal to the congregation through the church bulletin and from the pulpit for interested volunteers.
When volunteers are located, plan a long-term, ambitious program, which includes sound Bible teaching. Central to any successful youth ministry is serious Bible study. Without it, the program amounts to little more than entertainment for church-related youth. With it, the youth program can be built around the teaching of God’s Word and all the activities of the program can be related to the Bible and its message.
The future of your church depends on how adequately youth are prepared to assume leadership roles, and this training is best conducted through a youth ministry. Select three or four people to serve on a youth advisory committee and have the remainder of the volunteers serve as youth sponsors. The advisory committee will meet with the pastor and the youth minister, if the church has one, to plan the Bibleteaching segments and youth activities.
Inform the congregation of youth projects. At times even the entire community should be aware of events such as car washes, bazaars and other church-sponsored projects. This is best done through the local
media. Consider the following ways to advertise events: newspapers, shoppers’ guides or trading post, spots for local radio and even television stations, business marquees, billboards and posters. Don’t forget to publish these projects in the church bulletin and/or newsletter.
Make your activities appealing. Youth are exposed to the best the world has to offer through radio and television and a variety of other means of entertainment. They will demand quality and must be certain their church is interested in them. The teaching of the Bible must be relevant and interesting, offering youth alternatives to worldly solutions.
Know what your youth are interested in and plan events around those interests. If your young people enjoy trips, plan interesting excursions to places of interest. Consider youth retreats where the youth committee can plan meaningful worship services. After all, a successful youth ministry does not just entertain youth, it ministers to their spiritual needs. The worship services should always be conducted at the beginning and ending of each day of a retreat. Sessions need not be long or elaborate, but should always include a reading of a selected passage of Scripture and a short devotional and prayer. At times, it is wise to permit youth to conduct portions of regular worship services at the church. This can include having young people lead in prayer and share their testimonies.
If your church has a young person who plans to become a pastor or a missionary, you should consider having him speak at one of the scheduled times of worship. I have had entire services conducted by the youth. This includes using a youth choir and young people as soloists and in singing groups, having a young, articulate member of the group bring a message and using young people to lead prayers, usher and receive the offerings.
Often the young people can use what they learn in Bible study and worship services to witness to their friends at school and in the community. At times, youth provide the catalyst which sparks revival among the congregation. This may take the form of a youth-led revival or one in which the young people become so interested that they witness during the meeting to their peers, frequently seeing some of them make professions of faith. Nothing sets a youth ministry on fire more than seeing family members and friends trust the Lord as a direct result of the youth program.
Try to become aware of youth’s problems. A good youth ministry can provide for the airing and discussion of a number of problems peculiar to the modern youth, such as alcoholism, misuse of drugs, and even sexual misconduct. When young people feel comfortable with their leaders, these matters can be openly discussed and, at times, resolved.
Watch for evangelistic opportunities. They can come at retreats, youth services and on occasions that lend themselves to evangelistic emphasis. Once the youth of our church, when returning home after a trip, stopped at a roadside park for a rest. The surroundings invited a worship service and several dedications were made by the youth. At another time we had a prayer dinner and several decisions were made.
Always pray for your youth. Do it in public and don’t be ashamed to let the congregation know of your interest in youth. Help youth to develop missions awareness. Invite missionaries to speak to them. Plan special emphases. such as drama presentations or unusual programs, which will arouse not only their interest, but that of the congregation as well.
A youth ministry is difficult, but not impossible. It demands creative thinking and planning. Long hours will be involved in meeting their special needs, but the rewards are great.
In summary, an effective youth ministry includes a basic ABC and D approach:
• Ask for volunteers.
• Assign tasks to youth advisors.
• Advertise youth activities.
• Beware of taking youth for granted.
• Become aware of your youth’s interests.
• Be attentive to youth’s problems.
• Consider a youth minister.
• Constantly watch for evangelistic opportunities.
• Carefully involve youth in church programs.
• Diligently pray for your youth.
• Don’t attempt the impossible.
• Develop missions emphases.
Your church can have a youth program which ministers to them as no one else can. They are the church of tomorrow and demand your best efforts.
The above material was published by Strang Communication, 1984. This material should be used for study and research purposes only.