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Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 22. Appropriate

Programming is effective in meeting the needs of those at various stages of maturity and Christian growth. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready. (1 Corinthians 3:2)     In my first year as a volunteer leader of a youth ministry, one girl stopped coming to our youth group. When I talked with her she told me how she had started going to another youth group and had made a commitment to follow...

July 13, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 21. Comprehensive

The youth programme seeks to build well-rounded disciples through Bible study, fellowship, worship and prayer. All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)     As we have seen previously a key purpose of any youth ministry is to make disciples. This should be kept at the forefront of our minds as we put together our youth programme. But just what is a discipl...

July 6, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 20. Culture

The youth ministry is a safe place where acceptance, affirmation and encouragement is experienced by all. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:24,25a) Being a relational youth ministry means more than keeping track of individuals and making newcomers feel welcome. A truly relational youth ministry is one in which the quality of relationships be...

June 29, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 19. Newcomers

Newcomers are made to feel welcome by youth and leaders alike and quickly gain a sense of belonging and involvement. I was a stranger, and you invited me in... when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:35b,40b)    The culture Jesus lived in placed a high value on hospitality and the welcoming of strangers. To turn away a stranger in need was unacceptable. Jesus took this even further when He said that when we welcomed...

June 22, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 18. Attendance

Attendance at programmes is monitored and leaders follow up absentees letting them know that they were missed. If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? (Luke 15:4)   One of my favourite parables is the parable of the lost sheep in which the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to find the one that was lost. (Luke 15:4) The underlying message...

June 8, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 17. Individual

Every young person who comes to the youth programme is individually cared for and prayed for by at least one leader. O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. (Psalm 139:1,2)    One evening I was passing a couple of young people in the street. One was from one of our church families and had regularly attended our youth ministry over the previous few years. I greeted her by name a...

June 1, 2021

Less is More

“Less is More” is a saying made famous by the German designer and architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who is regarded as one of the pioneers of modernist architecture. This style contrasted with the architectural style of the day that had featured decorative and ornate lines and shapes. It was best described as simple or even minimalist, with its geometric shapes and straight lines. “Less is more” aptly described the style – stick to the essentials, avoid clutter and pursue ut...

May 20, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 16. Transition

The youth ministry successfully manages age-related transitions into and out of the youth ministry. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11)   I always approached one “start of year” task with mixed feelings. Each January I would contact those young people about to transition into youth group and arrange to meet with them.  The awkwardness and even nervousness wasn’t all one way! Rarely ...

May 20, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 15. Family

The youth ministry acknowledges the importance of the family and seeks to work with and support parents. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. (Deuteronomy 6:6,7) A youth ministry that sets out to effectively disciple young people must of necessity build strong relationships w...

May 18, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 14. Belonging

Young people regard the wider church as “their” church and are engaged and involved in its activities. I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. (1 Corinthians 1:9)  Years ago, a girl in our youth ministry stopped attending. As we followed her up it turned out she was in a relationship with a young man who had n...

May 4, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 13. Body

The youth ministry is an integral part of the church body and young people are known, valued and supported by all. [Christ] makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (Ephesians 4:16)  When I accepted a call to work with young people in my first church, they had been without a paid youth pastor for quite some time. The ministry had been held together by a...

April 27, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 12. Youth-led

Leadership responsibilities, training and opportunities to serve are given to young people. “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ (Matthew 25:23) When we consider that our purpose in youth ministry is to make disciples it’s possible to make this primarily about teaching young people to know and understand the Bible. Of course, that...

April 20, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 11. Diverse Leadership

Those involved in leadership in the youth ministry are drawn from a wide range of ages and personalities. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to do good. In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. (Titus 2:4-7 abridged) There is a well-known proverb that says, “it takes a village to raise a child”. It’s based on the conviction that the more insight and experience a young person is exposed to, t...

April 13, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 10. Trained Leaders

Youth leaders are experienced and receiving ongoing training, mentoring and support in their leadership role. Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15) At times I’m asked why I think I’ve stayed in youth ministry for so long. I think one important reason is that I was well trained. I interned at a church alongside an experienced and capable youth ...

April 7, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 9. Exemplary Leadership

Youth leaders are good role models for young people showing maturity and a genuine Christian faith that is evident to all. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. (1 Timothy 4:12) At the primary school I attended a local minister would come in each week to teach us about the Bible. It was a long time ago and for all the times he led our class I can only remember on...

March 30, 2021

Characteristics of an Effective Youth Ministry: 8. Assessed

The youth ministry regularly assess itself and identifies areas which need to be strengthened or developed. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. (2 Corinthians 13:15) A church had invited me to come and do an assessment of their youth ministry. Some questionnaires were completed and I arranged to meet with a cross section of leaders, parents and young people. My fir...

March 23, 2021

Characteristics of an Effective Youth Ministry: 7. Strategic

The youth ministry has a clear sense of direction and is working purposefully toward achieving God-given goals. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3) If it were not for a deep belief in the sovereignty of God and the headship of Christ over the church, I could easily be a control freak! There is something incredibly satisfying and comforting about sitting down at the start of a new year and mapping out exactly what I expect to achieve and how. It gives an...

March 16, 2021

Characteristics of an Effective Youth Ministry: 6. Values-Based

The youth ministry has a conscious culture based on shared Biblical values and unique strengths. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)  In my first year as a youth pastor I did something I now tell youth leaders never to do. I had just completed a one year internship in an effective and vibrant youth min...

March 9, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 5. Purposeful

The youth ministry emphasises making disciples who live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19,20)  In his bestselling book, “Start With Why”, author Simon Sinek explains that all successful ventures must start with a “why...

March 2, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 4. Christ-Honouring

The youth ministry is a place where Christian values and standards are upheld, and God is glorified in all that takes place. Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)   1 Corinthians 10:31 makes a great motto for a youth ministry: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God!” While it’s true that Paul was talking about “eating and drinking” (a vital ingredient of any youth ministry!) it’s also true in a much broader sense. What does it mean to d...

February 23, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 3. Christ-Consciousness

There is a sense of expectancy when the young people meet, as Christ is recognised as immanent and desiring intimacy. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16) Many of you will be all too familiar with the Great Commission. In the final verses of Matthew’s Gospel, before ascending into heaven, Jesus charged his followers with the imperative to “go make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Your familiarity with t...

February 16, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 2. Christ-Focussed

The youth ministry is “all about Jesus”. The gospel message of His life, death, resurrection and the new life is frequently taught. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. (John 12:32) I used to teach a Bible-in-schools class for 11 and 12-year-olds in our local school. There was a young girl who I discovered had no Christian upbringing but was highly engaged and interested in what I had to say each week. One morning before class she asked to speak to me. She...

February 9, 2021

Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry: 1. Christ-Led

The ministry intentionally seeks to discern and follow Christ’s leadership and can give examples of how He has led. Christ is also the head of the church, which is His body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So He is first in everything. (Colossians 1:18) As youth pastor, towards the end of each year, I would begin approaching people who I believed could make effective small group leaders and shepherds for our young people. I recall talking to two young women who, ...

February 2, 2021

Seven questions to start the year right

I recently listened to a podcast that outlined a few simple questions to use when making decisions. I found myself thinking about questions I’d ask when considering if my youth ministry is being effective. Here is my list: If God withdrew His Holy Spirit from my youth ministry, how would I know?If Jesus replaced me as the leader, what might He do differently?Would I be happy for my teenage son/daughter to be discipled by any one of my leaders?If we were to stop meeting as a youth group, would ...

January 26, 2021

Passing on the baton (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness. May God’s grace be with you all. (1 Timothy 6:20,21) I once heard the story of a runner in a 4 x 100m relay team who was running the third leg. The starter’s pistol fired and the lead-off sprinter left the blocks and gave it all they had, earning a narrow lead before passing the baton...

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