The Future of Youth Ministry – Youth Pastor or Event Manager?
In one of my first blog posts ‘What is Christian youth work?’ I asked, what are we trying to achieve in youth ministry? What is our goal as a youth pastor or Christian youth worker, whether we’re paid or a volunteer? I suggested four insights which have helped me in charting my own course in youth ministry. You can read them here. I’m firmly convinced that the main goal of Christian youth ministry is making disciples.
‘So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.’ Colossians 1: 28-29
However, it’s easy to fall into the ‘numbers’ trap. Wishing my youth group was bigger. Designing programmes to attract more young people. Dreaming of what it would be like to have a ‘mega’ group and the accompanying status from our church and peers. Haven’t we all thought like that from time to time? I know I have. I purposely use the word ‘trap’ because following the numbers agenda can so easily distract us from our primary purpose of disciple making.
Discipling young people is time intensive and a huge investment. It takes time nurturing young people to bring ‘each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ.’ Now I’m not saying there’s no space for fun stuff and crazy games, young people aren’t just ‘souls on legs’, they have physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs (just like you and me), but we need to stay laser-focused on our goal.
What do we think of when we think about discipleship? A programmer? A curriculum? A confirmation course? Finding a process which is helpful to the spiritual growth of your young people is important, but I want to suggest we also reflect on the outcomes.
5 reasons for mission.
We need to guide our young people away from a consumer mentality into one of discipleship, engagement and mission is one of the biggest challenges youth leaders, certainly in the west, face today. I’m confident that our teaching would bear more fruit, our prayer be more vibrant if witness, mission and social action were an integral part of youth ministry.
Here are my 5 reasons to help answer the question, ‘Why should I be involved in mission?’ Use this as a personal reflection, as part of a presentation or perhaps an outline for a youth group study.
Isn’t one of the marks of a deepening faith, a servant heart? A desire to do good in the name of Jesus? A passion to reach others with a life transforming Gospel?
‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ Ephesians 2:10
It’s a big challenge, but where can we start? How can we inject new energy, depth and meaning into our discipleship strategy? Where can we find opportunities for young people to demonstrate their faith in action? How can their friends see and hear the difference following Jesus makes?
Let me be clear, I’m not an advocate for scrapping everything and starting again. We’ve lost our way a bit and it’s time for a course correction. We have a new opportunity to change the focus away from ‘self’ to ‘serve’ (Acts 20:25) and help young people to play their part in transforming the world.
Where do we start? Right where we are! Start in a small way. The longest journey begins with one small step.
Where do I begin teaching?
May I suggest a good place to start is to see what Jesus says? Then what does the rest of the New Testament say about serving others. There’s no shortage of passages to look at!
Take a look with your group at Matthew 25:31-46. This can be a tough and uncomfortable passage. Is the real evidence of true faith in the way we act? Does what we do for others demonstrate what we really think about Jesus’ words? In this parable Jesus describes acts of mercy we can all do every day. They don’t depend on wealth or ability, so what hinders us? Other passages you can look at are 1 Peter 4:10-11 and James 2: 14-17.
If you’re working with a young group or with children, there are many Jesus moments and parables which encourage our thinking about helping and serving others. For example,
* The Boy Who Shared His Lunch (John 6: 1-16) – sharing what little we have.
* The Widow’s Mite (Luke 21:1-2) – giving all that we have.
* The Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) – Who is our neighbor? Wherever we are, there are needy people close by, even if they are ‘different’.
Where can I begin engaging?
Start local. What could you do right on your doorstep?
What community projects or outreach is your church involved in? How can the young people be creatively involved? Join up and be part of the big church 🙂
What other projects are there in your community? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – contribute the willing hands of your group to an existing project or scheme.
* Be ‘buddies’ for a disabled group trip.
* Visit kids in hospital with games.
* Throw a party.
* Paint a mural.
* Collect items for a homeless hostel.
* Feed the hungry.
* Visit the elderly housebound members of your church.
* Sponsor a child through ‘Compassion’ or another agency. Do some fundraising, not for yourselves, but for others in real need.
* Contribute to an environmental project.
* Plan and host an evangelistic meeting with music, drama and testimony by your young people.
* Participate in a short-term mission trip. More to say on this at a later date. Try to leave a lasting legacy.
* Partner with other youth groups to scale up a project.
From: www.insightforyouth.com web site. April 2015.
The above article, “The Future of Youth Ministry-Youth Pastor or Event Manager?” was written by Deem Frontoli. The article was excerpted from www.insightforyouth.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.”