I’ve been in youth ministry for over ten years! WOW, I just scared myself… In that time I’ve been blessed enough to see God at work in a number of churches across several different denominations. In that time I’ve learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Youth worker you could probably do the same, so rather than doing that (plenty of blogs, websites, conferences and mentors can help with that) I’d rather like to share so you 3 ingredients I believe must be apart of every time you gather together with your teenagers.
If I’m honest this was probably that hardest one for me. I know for many youth pastors and leaders that may be the total opposite. I can so focused on Discipling young people, making sure they are hungry for God and are carrying the gospel that I forgot to even enjoy the ministry God had me doing, I quickly realised that fun is not contrary to gospel living. Jesus had fun, he enjoyed life and our youth ministry must have adequate doses of fun scattered throughout our nights. And don’t limit yourself to thinking this must only be in games. Have fun in groups, in your sermons, wherever. Fun, energy and passion are huge culture and atmosphere change agents.
We want our youth ministries to be a place where young people can come and experience genuine friendships, not only with their peers but also with leaders. Relationships is the currency of teenagers, and if you have no relational connection with them you’ll find it almost impossible to be able to communicate anything of substance to them. Your young people are not a Missional tool or evangelism target but rather peoples whose lives matter to God. We must invest relationally into them, but trust and respect and love them because God does.
If we don’t communicate Jesus we are nothing more that a cute little gathering of teenagers who entertain themselves with games and various outings. The youth ministry I inherited nearly 18 months ago was phenomenal at these first two F’s. I’d never seen a group of leaders so devoted to creating great moments in youth nights and so good at investing relationally in teenagers,seriously one if the best I’d ever seen. Over the past year our team has gone on a journey ensuring we are not just stopping there but are speaking the truth of Jesus (in love) and giving our young people an opportunity to experience, process and journey with God. Teach them the scriptures in a way that cones in with their world, let them dialogue, process and even wrestle with it