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.