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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...

May 25, 2020

Treasure (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19) If you’ve ...

May 18, 2020

The core business of youth ministry

The retail operator Blockbuster was once the giant among video stores, dwarfing a mail-order DVD service run by a company called Netflix. When the market changed one died and the other flourished. Why? Because one saw their core business as providing DVDs while the other saw their core business as entertainment.  Now is a good time to remind ourselves that as youth leaders our core “business” is not to run programmes but to make disciples (Matthew 28:19,20). Programmes contrib...

May 14, 2020

The end of the story (1 Timothy 6:15,16)

For, at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen. (1 Timothy 6:15,16) Have you ever read a book or seen a movie knowing how it will end? While knowing the outcome won’t necessarily ruin the experience of reading or viewin...

May 11, 2020

Fight the Good Fight (1 Timothy 6:12-14)

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (1 Timothy 6:12-14) It's generally agreed that the greatest hea...

May 4, 2020

Know who you are (1 Timothy 6:11)

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11)As a young person, there has come a point in your life where your parents have given you greater freedom to go out and spend time with friends in situations where you might be tempted to act in ways that are contrary to how they have raised you.Most I'm sure will agree that what makes you most inclined to act responsib...

April 27, 2020

Seven suggestions for key volunteer leaders during lockdown

Have you ever signed up for something only to find out that what you signed up for was not exactly what you expected? It’s happened to me a few times and left me with a mix of disappointment, frustration and uncertainty. Those of us leading in youth ministry could be excused for feeling any or all of these things right now as our leadership role has suddenly changed. We’ve become used to preparing programmes at which we can interact face to face with the young people. Now there is no weekly ...

April 21, 2020

Desire and the love of money (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:9,10)You may have noticed that there are some phrases in popular use that have come from the Bible. If you say things like “Go the extra mile”, (Matthew 5:41), “A wolf i...

April 20, 2020

Contentment (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:6-8) Years ago I managed to convince myself that I needed an iPad. When it was first released it looked to me like a big iPod and I couldn't imagine why anyone would need it. However, before long, Apple's advertising had me hooked. (When it comes to the sin of covetousness, I confess that I'm most...

April 13, 2020

Bible truth and ungodly living (1 Timothy 6:4,5)

Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. (1 Timothy 6:4,5) I recently spoke to a group of students at a Bible College and in my opening ...

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