Archives for: August 2016

There were 3 posts published in August 2016.

Elements of a Healthy and Sustainable Youth Ministry: 4. Individual

4.    Individual

A youth ministry is more than a single entity—it is made up of individuals whom Christ loves and for whom He died. Regardless of the size of a youth group every individual must be individually made to feel that they belong, are cared for and are discipled. In practice this means:

  • Every young person has one or more adult leaders given primary responsibility for discipling them and providing pastoral care. Jesus told a telling parable about a shepherd with one hundred sheep. One of them strayed and so the shepherd left the ninety-nine to look for the one, the lesson being that every person is valuable to God. Our youth ministry should see young people in the same light and offer individual care.
  • Strategies exists for meeting a range of pastoral needs including caring for them and integrating them into the life of the youth group so that they have a sense of belonging and of being valued. The most important person at your youth ministry next week is the person who is there for the first time. We should never simply just hope that they come back. We need strategies in place to welcome them, follow them up with an invite back and help them to quickly develop a sense of belonging.
  • The unique needs of young people are considered when developing strategies and programmes. Programmes should never be an end in themselves – always they are a means to an end and that end is to help young people grow in their relationship with God. Therefore as we develop programmes we consider where our young people are at in their faith and what is necessary to encourage them to take the next step. Then as we run these programmes we allow enough flexibility to change direction as needs become apparent.

 

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Elements of a Healthy and Sustainable Youth Ministry: 3. Body

3.    Body

A healthy and effective youth ministry will not simply be an add on to the church. Young people are an integral part of the Body of Christ and as such a ministry to them must be well integrated into the wider life of the church. In practice this means:

  • Adopting an intergenerational approach to youth ministry in which young people are intentionally brought into relationship with older people of different generations who share in the tasks of caring and discipleship. In many churches it’s possible to go right through the youth ministry and never have a conversation with anyone over 25! Mature faith is best developed in an environment in which mature faith is present and real conversations are taking place. Perhaps surprisingly to some, young people are more than willing to engage with adults and have them as part of the youth ministry.
  • Looking for ways to involve young people in and with the wider church community, assisting in other ministries and having a sense that this is “their church”. Many young people will proudly tell you this is their youth group, but want be so quick to claim your church as their church. Consequently, once they exit the youth ministry they also exit the church. A sense of belonging grows as young people find ways to be involved with and participate in the wider church, while they are in youth group.
  • Supporting and resourcing the family to be effective disciplers of their own children and their children’s friends. An effective youth ministry recognises the important role parents have in nurturing teenage faith and maintains strong links with parents. This includes making sure they communicate with them, supporting them when they are going through difficulties with their teens, and directing them to resources that will help them parent effectively.

 

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Elements of a Healthy and Sustainable Youth Ministry: 2. Leadership

2.  Leadership

A healthy and effective youth ministry will both have and be producing godly and capable leaders. In practice this means:

  • Youth leaders first and foremost exhibit two traits: to love God and love young people. We often make the mistake of thinking youth leaders need to be young, fun and “cool”, yet God (and for that matter most young people themselves) are looking for leaders with just these two traits. Everything else can be taught.
  • Leaders strive for excellence, knowing that they are accountable to God for the quality of their leadership. In these days of job descriptions, monthly reports and performance appraisals it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that our ultimate accountability is to God, and because he is God He deserves our very best. The most effective leaders understand this and are internally motivated to go the extra mile and make the extra effort in order that God might be glorified.
  • Leaders will be engaged in suitable ongoing training and mentoring from someone with greater experience and Christian maturity. We can never sit back and think we know it all. Effective youth leaders will welcome the opportunity to undergo training and will seek out mentors.

 

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