The 3 F’s of Youth Ministry

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.

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FUN

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.

FRIENDSHIPS

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.

FAITH

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

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Projection Problem

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Recently I was setting up my MacBook for youth & attempting to project the image from the computer to the screen. A pretty normal function and one I thought would be pretty simple task. However, somehow and God only knows (or a Mac expert) that the image from my computer began to project a completely different visual. I quickly became incredibly frustrated after several failed attempts to fix the projection problem. How hard can it be to take one thing and authentically project it somewhere else without anything being different.

In this moment (if I’m honest I was über close to using some words probably not uttered by a pastor in the church walls of Heathmont Baptist Church) I felt the voice of God speak to me saying “MJ you do this in your life too.” “What are you talking about” I said to God, I should by now know better to argue or question him on things.

God was gracious with me again and explained “isn’t it frustrating when the real picture isn’t shown but rather an imposter is projected? Well in the same way their are times where who you are projecting is not who you really are.” I felt immediately convicted and repented in that moment fully aware of my sin and also my own inadequacy. I know in my life when I feel inadequate or that I believe I’m not good enough these are the moments I’m most likely to project a performance image rather than the real image. In these times I need to learn to once again lean more onto God and put more of my trust in him and not myself.

We need to be accurately projecting who we really are and who Jesus is. People can spot a fake from a mile off, and also become quickly frustrated once they realise their is a difference between the real picture and what we are projecting. Don’t be who you think others think you should, but rather project an authentic image of who you are and who Jesus is.