As I study scripture and lean into some of my favorite Bible stories it is amazing to me to see how frequently God used teenagers to accomplish His mission.  It’s been relatively eye-opening to me because for much of my life I had always envisioned the people God was using as adults.  This could have stemmed from the adult looking flanelgraph cut outs that my Sunday school teachers used to tell Bible stories with or it could be the simple fact that adults were the ones telling me the stories so they must have been talking about other adults.  As I have become an adult and studied scripture my eyes have been opened to the frequency in which God used teens, not adults to get the job done.

Here are several examples of what I’m referring to:

  • Joseph was a teenager when he shared his dreams with his brothers and was sold into slavery.
  • When David killed the bear and lion as a shepherd, let alone Goliath on the battlefield, was probably 15 or 16 years old.
  • King Josiah was 18 or 19 when he assumed the throne.
  • Some believe that Jeremiah was still a teenager when he started his prophetic ministry.
  • Daniel and the faithful trio of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo were teenagers at the start of their ministries.
  • Jumping to the New Testament, Timothy, Paul’s disciple, was a teenager.
  • Mary was a young teenage girl when she had Jesus and then married Joseph.
  • Not to mention, most of the Disciples, save Peter, were teenagers during the 3 year ministry of Jesus.

So to the question I posed in the title of this entry: Is your Youth Ministry central or peripheral in the life of your church?  As best as I can tell, teenagers were central to God’s ministry plans throughout scripture.  If God chose to use teenagers then why shouldn’t we view the teens within our ministries and churches as central to what God is trying to accomplish and not as peripheral, an afterthought, a necessary evil, a 50-some-year-old trend within the church…whatever? 

I wonder what church would look like today if Adult Ministry was segmented out and Youth Ministry was central and primary to the life of a church?  I’m not advocating that extreme of a pendulum swing, but isn’t that what we’ve already done in the church to the opposite extreme?  We’ve made adults central and primary in most cases foresaking the youth in our church bodies. 

Imagine with me what the Church could accomplish in this world, for the glory of God, if teenagers were viewed and treated as equals within the church and given similar opportunities as adults to lead and set the pace!  Think of what might get done for the Kingdom of God if we took a lesson from God’s playbook and empowered teenagers to lead out in ministry and do radical things for the Kingdom.

What’s holding you back from developing a Youth Ministry model in your church in which you are empowering the teenagers God has placed in your care to lead and not to follow?  This idea for Youth Ministry doesn’t have to be an idea at all, it can (and should) be a reality.  Praise God for those of in Youth Ministry that are empowering your teens to lead!  May God bless your efforts.

6 thoughts on “Is your Youth Ministry Central or Peripheral

  1. Jason, I totally agree with this. Something I’ve been talking to churches about for along time. The church I serve in now sees youth as central to accomplishing it’s mission. One of the big reasons is that I serve with a fantastic Sr. Pastor who supports the student ministries 100%.
    Hope to see you in Maple Grove on Nov. 2 for the D2S training.

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  3. Great post bro! Thought provoking for sure. As I think about it I have to agree that we need to be more central and intentional with our student ministry in terms of their involvement not only inside, but also outside the church. Students are eager and hungry to serve, learn, take risks for THE Cause, and even lead the charge. But in many cases they are being held back for various reasons ie.; adult committees or the old saying “they are just teenagers and don’t know any better.”

    What I find interesting is I believe we’re coming full circle, if not already then in the near future. What I mean is, scripture is clear that God chose to use teenagers to impact, change and expose others to Jesus. But over time, culture and society has dictated what our students can and cannot do. Now, I believe things are making a shift as students are being more bold in sharing their faith and taking risks for Jesus. That’s my two cents bro.

  4. Jason –
    Great post bro! Although, and this may unintentionally sound super spiritual, I would put Jesus as central and the primary church ministry be to youth. The student ministry at Redeemer IS key to our church life and when I have had the pulpit I have preached these very things. My only concern is “are we prioritizing student ministry out of default or out of intentionality.” You see, our community is so family oriented that if you are not reaching out to kids & students forget it because everything in our community is. Anyway, keep up the good God work bro!

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