You’re probably thinking I’m out of my mind or that I’ve been out of full time Youth Ministry for too long if I think there are only 4 types of teens that we need to consider when we minister to our Youth Groups, but if you’ll humor me for a few minutes I think I can make a believer out of you.
First, why only 4 types of teens? Over the last few years I have learned to use and rely on what is called a 2×2 grid. Stephen Covey uses this concept in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, when he explains how we should prioritize our time. He used “importance” and “urgency” as the two factors that go into determining the things that we get done: urgent/important, urgent/unimportant, not urgent/important, and not urgent/unimportant.
So I took that same logic and applied it to Youth Ministry. The two factors that I came up are the ones I consider the most foundational in a teenagers life: their spiritual condition (are they saved or unsaved) and their family setting (do their parents support their spiritual development or ingore it). As you can see on my 2×2 grid I labeled these factors SALVATION and FAMILY SUPPORT:
I understand that our spiritual maturity is a huge factor to consider as some saved kids are in a completely different places than others as they are constantly moving forward (and sometimes backwards) on their spiritual journeys. the same can be said for their family situations. Just know that I understand that these two factors exist as wide spectrums and not as absolutes.
Now that we’ve established how I came up with 4 types of Youth Group kids, allow me to provide a brief definition of each of them along with how we should approach ministering to them:
1) Saved, no family support - these are teens that have put their faith in Jesus Christ but their parents aren’t on the same page. Typically their parents don’t attend church, let alone believe in Jesus themselves, and thye may not even like the fact that their kids believe in Jesus or come to church. Occaisonally these parents will attend church and may even be believers themselves but unfortunately don’t take responsibility for the spiritual development of their kids. As you minister to these teens you will probably have to take on more responsibility in their personal discipleship and equip them to be ministers in their own homes to their own family members.
2) Saved, has family support - your most committed teens that your biggest supporters when it comes to parents. These teens are living purpose filled lives and hopefully are helping you lead the way in your ministry because not only do they believe in Jesus and involved in the Youth Ministry but their parents lovingly pour into their development as well. You rarely teach these kids anything new because their parents are paving the way on their discipleship journey. Ministering to these teens is an awesome opportunity to partner with their parents in their spiritual development and to help them live a life on mission to reach their lost friends.
3) Unsaved, no family support - my heart is burdened for these kids because they don’t know the Truth and they don’t get the support and love the need from home either. Hopefully, they are the most hungry and receptive to the Gospel. Sometimes, they are the most calloused as they don’t know how to give or receive love. This is your number 1 mission field as a Youth Leader. Hopefully you are taking the opportunity to equip and empower the saved teens in your Youth Ministry to reach the lost that are right in front of them. These kids are the reason you give the Gospel in every Youth Group setting. Never miss an opportunity to expose these teens to Jesus.
4) Unsaved, has family support - hopefully it is just a matter of time for these kids as they haven’t put their faith and trust in Jesus but you and their family are surrounding them with love. You may often times find the rebellious kids you deal with in this category which could make them the most difficult to deal with, however they get the truth and power of the Gospel everywhere they go. Ministry here should be done in partnership with the parents and you should be praying with them for the salvation of their kids. Hopefully you can follow the parents in lead at is their kids you are all trying to reach. At the same time you can be the breath of fresh air and encouragement that the parents need.
I hope that this is helpful and that you can see how every teen in your ministry fits into one of these four categories. As you minister to any of the four types of teens (and parents) I’d love to hear how you approach them. Leave your comments here not just for my benefit but to encourage other Youth Leaders and give them ideas on how to be more effective Youth Leaders. We’re all in this together.
Take 3 seconds and cast your vote for here to share the type of teens that make up the majority of your Youth Ministry!