Category: Blog

There are 8 posts published under Blog.

Elements of a Healthy and Sustainable Youth Ministry: 7. Climate

7.    Systems

All churches develop a “climate” which either positively or adversely affects what is done. The degree of health in a youth ministry will inevitably be reflected in the health of the climate in which it operates. In practice this means:

  • Having a church that enthusiastically supports it’s young people and those involved in leadership to them. Such a church communicates to the young people that they are important and to the youth leaders that they are valued. It attends programmes when invited and takes an active interest in what is happening in the youth ministry. This interest and support does not go unnoticed and affects the attitude and enthusiasm of youth leaders and young people alike.
  • The presence of welcoming atmosphere, a safe environment and a positive energy when young people meet. A healthy and sustainable youth ministry will develop a climate that is both positive and infectious. It has a culture that appeals to young people and makes them want to keep returning. The energy that exists when they meet is evident to even a visitor and contributes to the ministry’s growth and effectiveness.
  • A strong sense of group identity and purpose among the young people in which they are coming to faith and taking tangible steps in their love and service of God. Not only is there a positive atmosphere when young people meet but there is evidence of Christian growth and a positive peer influence in discipleship. The young people sense this is “their” group and have traditions and ways of doing things that is unique to the group and creates an atmosphere and places where faith flourishes.

 

Interested in having out youth enablers take you through a process in which they help you assess the ministry and develop a strategic plan for moving ahead? Find out more about our consultation process.

Elements of a Healthy and Sustainable Youth Ministry: 6. Systems

6.    Systems

An effective youth ministry will have systems and documentation in place that make for helpful processes and practices, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and that any handover in leadership is as seamless as possible. This includes:

  • An intentional long and short term approach to programming that includes calendars and curriculum. Those of us with children would be horrified if our schools told us that they were unsure what they will teach our children from year to year, or even week to week. yet that’s how some youth ministries operate! Planning a long term curriculum doesn’t mean nailing down every week’s programme years in advance. It does mean having a sense of where we are heading and what we are covering, with flexibility to add in extra programmes or incorporate new resources as they are released.
  • Programme documentation with clearly defined purposes that include expectations and tasks for leaders. It’s easy to fall into the trap of running programmes without any clear sense of purpose, or recruiting leaders who have little real sense of what you want them to do and what constitutes success. Yet when we work through these issues and document them clearly we maximise the effectiveness of what we do and who we ask to do it.
  • An accurate database of contact information for all the young people associated with the youth ministry, and their parents, exists and is used.  Such a database is not about counting numbers. It’s about realising that every young person is important, and we need to make sure we communicate with them and their parents/guardians effectively and regularly.
  • Good lines of communication and accountability exist between the youth ministry and the wider church. These include ways to inform both the church and the church leadership what is happening within the youth ministry. It will include regular reports, newsletter items, updates, etc.

 

Find out more about our consultation process.

Elements of a Healthy and Sustainable Youth Ministry: 5. Programmes

5.    Programmes

An effective youth ministry will have programmes that are comprehensive and excellent in purpose and execution. In practice this means:

  • A full range of programming elements will be present.  Acts 2:42-43 gives five aspects of programming that were important for the early church and should be evident in any youth group: teaching, fellowship, worship, prayer and mission. A programme containing these elements will be balanced but it should also be varied and creative so as to appeal to various preferences the young people have.
  • Programmes will have purpose and relevance. As we organise programmes we need to be clear about purpose. We need to think about why we are running programmes, who we are targeting, and what our expected outcomes are. This prevents us spending time on activities that have no real purpose and do not contribute to the goal of making disciples.
  • Programmes will aim to achieve a high standard of excellence. All that we do in youth ministry, including running programmes should be done to the glory of God. This means we strive to do our very best in planning and running programmes and gthat we are careful to evaluate what we do and reflect on how we might improve.

 

Find out more about our consultation process.

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.

 

Find out more about our consultation process.

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.

 

Find out more about our consultation process.

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.

 

Find out more about our consultation process.

Elements of a Healthy and Sustainable Youth Ministry: 1. Purpose

What makes a youth ministry Healthy and Sustainable? We’ve developed a set of seven elements to assess youth groups as part of our consultation process. Over the coming months we will give an overview of each.

1.  Purpose

The primary purpose of youth ministry is to bring glory to God as we set about fulfilling the commission to make disciples.
In practice this means:

  • Acknowledging the headship and centrality of Christ in the way direction is set, decisions are made and programmes are planned. “Christ is head of the church ” is not merely a theological concept but a practical reality. An effective youth ministry will acknowledge that and will show evidence of both seeking His direction and following it. They will be able to say “We are doing this because God led us to do it by…” and “We bought this person into leadership because God showed us they were the right person by…”
  • Ensuring all activities are ultimately geared toward making disciples who have their own real relationship with Christ who dwells within them by the Holy Spirit. A youth ministry that seeks to attract or hold on to young people by entertaining them ultimately fails at both because they are seeking to provide something which the world ultimately does better. Instead, the youth ministry actively seeks to expose young people to spiritual reality in a way that leaves them hungering for more of God.
  • Exercising faith through being willing to take risks, allowing God to lead the ministry and take the glory. Following Christ is never “safe”. Young people learn to exercise faith through being placed in situations where they need God to come through. An effective youth ministry will expose young people to these challenges, encouraging them to seek God in helping them get through by relying upon Him.

For more information about our consultation process,

Starting a Youth Ministry From Scratch

KEY PRINCIPLE: Look for evidence of God at work and join in.

TEN TIPS

  1. Make prayer your number one strategy. Pray does more than make things happen. Prayer enables us to see evidence of God’s work.        – God reveals His plans and revives His people through prayer.
  2. Make God’s purpose your purpose – to make disciples. (Matthew 28:19,20). Everything you do should be channelled toward that end.                      – Aim for the same thing as God and you will hit it.
  3. Start with who and what you have – leaders, young people, resources. Resist the temptation to lament and be limited by what you don’t have.     – God provides for His work to be done His way.
  4. Begin with where they’re at – find out where young people are socially and spiritually. Programme accordingly. – God is already at work in young people’s lives.
  5. Give ownership away – change them from consumers into participants. Do this through listening to their ideas and involving them in leadership.       –  God builds His church through gifted people.
  6. Grow through young people’s relational and social networks. Use these for publicity, remembering the best advertisement is word of mouth. – God is already at work in their relationships.
  7. Focus on individuals and their needs. Welcome young people individually and make them feel valued. Follow up absentees.                                         – God never sees a crowd – only individuals.
  8. Establish a Biblical programme – one that includes Bible study, fellowship, prayer, worship and mission (Acts 2:42 & 47).                           – Do God’s work, God’s way and see God’s results.
  9. Establish clear aims and specific strategies. Have short term and long term goals and develop a process for ongoing evaluation of your progress.       – God is never static – always moving forward.
  10. Give space for God to be real to the young people. Nothing will attract young people more than evidence that God is at work. – God is an active participant in our lives – not a static observer.