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.