Working at Dare 2 Share has given me the opportunity to literally connect with hundreds, if not thousands of Youth Workers nationwide. Through those conversations and interactions, working at Dare 2 Share, as well as my personal experience as a full time Youth Leader and now as a volunteer I have learned a fair amount about Youth Ministry. After a great discussion about Youth Ministry philosophy with a friend last night I decided to jot down a few thoughts of what I believe Youth Ministry is NOT.
I know this is quazi risky of me as the thoughts are still fresh and I’m sure need to wordsmithed, however, I thought I’d take a little risk and post those thoughts as they currently stand. Please feel free to agree, disagree, share other ideas and thoughts, push back…whatever. I also want to make it clear that many of these ideas listed below aren’t bad, but on their own they do not equal effective Youth Ministry.
· Numbers driven, in the conventional sense of this concept. I don’t think it’s difficult to get a huge crowd of teenagers in a room. Movie theaters do it every weekend. There are a few numbers we should be completely focused on. How many teens have come to know Christ through the Youth Ministry? How many teens have come to know Christ because another teenager shared the Gospel with them? What many teens are sharing their faith on a regular basis? I love seeing a room full of teens, but more than that I love seeing volumes of teens coming to know Christ and sharing their faith consistently.
· Leading teenagers to Christ and then leaving them to fend for themselves. As I just mentioned, seeing teens comes to know Jesus is awesome, but that’s not all there is to it. A saved soul is better than a lost soul. Just the same, teens growing in their faith and leading others to Christ is better than knowing the cure and doing nothing else with it. Teens need to be poured into, invested in, and cultivated in their relationship with Jesus Christ as well.
· Bound within the four walls of a building. In the same spirit of seeing droves of teens in a room together, I love seeing them hanging out in a church building. Twelve teens in a small group meeting in someone’s living room is just as effective (maybe more effective) than those same twelve teens meeting in a church building. Location is irrelevant. What’s taking place with those twelve is what matters.
· Entertainment. Why entertainment ever became the focus of any Youth Ministry is beyond me. I’m not against having fun but it has its place a supporting role at best. Even if a church has granted an unbelievable budget to a Youth Ministry, it still can’t compete with that of Disney World, Hollywood, etc. At the same time, the world cannot compete with the Church in that we have the Truth.
· The largest budget in town. Does money hurt? Not at all. There are things that cannot be accomplished without adequate financial resources. Effective Youth Ministry is not one of them. Effective Youth Ministry is teens coming to know Christ and growing deeper in their relationship with God. That cannot be purchased.