The Audiences Of Student Ministry
By Josh Griffin
Sometimes I wonder if those of us who are student pastors fail to realize we have audiences all around us. We know students are listening (well, we hope they are), but there are also many other audiences watching and waiting to see what happens next with our ministry. Here are a few of the groups I’ve identified who are checking us out, and probably you, too.
This is the focal point of our ministry and really our intended audience. We are here to minister to junior high and high school students, and they are watching our every move. They sense cynicism more quickly than anyone, and they have a keen sense of when someone is inauthentic. So show them what the church is and what the church can be. Don’t be afraid of speaking the truth in love, and don’t shy away from God’s call to point young lives to Him.
If students are the intended audience of your ministry, volunteers are a close second. If you’ve been in youth ministry any amount of time, you’ve realized that pouring into volunteers who then pour into students is crucial for success. The longer I’m in youth ministry, the more I’m convinced our influence can be greatly amplified when our audience of volunteers is well-trained, encouraged and united.
Often overlooked and many times thought to be disinterested, many parents are hungry for your direct involvement. They appreciate your willingness to minister to their teenagers, but we only partially succeed if we fail to reach into the home. Parents are an eager audience, waiting to be engaged.
If you’re fortunate enough to have other paid youth staff or interns, realize they are a huge asset to your team and will increase your overall bandwidth. But they are also an audience that needs to be poured into as well. How are you at leading your own team?
Other Youth Workers
One of the most overlooked audiences in student ministry is the community of youth workers surrounding you. When you finish a talk, it sits on your hard drive. When you develop some great small group material, your students complete it and then it sits on a shelf. And when the local youth worker gathering comes around, you always find an excuse to avoid it. The question every minister to students should ask is, “Am I advancing MY kingdom, or THE Kingdom?” Partner with those around you. Share your resources with reckless abandon.
The Whole Church
One of the most exciting byproducts of serving in a student ministry is being able to “lead from the middle.” Most youth workers are in the middle management of their church, right? If there are three people on staff (a senior pastor, you, and the secretary), you’re leading from the middle. OK, maybe from the bottom. But at least you’re still close to the middle sometimes I feel right above the church pipe organ cleaner. My point is that your whole church is watching you. If there’s a buzz in the student ministry, your church feels it. If you want to create a great youth service, spend time creating a great adult service. People will notice, and you can lead adults while leading students. So this week, as you approach your student ministry, remember the many audiences around you and send a few signals their way.
This article “The Audiences Of Student Ministry” written by Josh Griffin is excerpted from Group Magazine, January 2003 edition.