The need for youth ministry is practically uncontested in most religious denominations, as the teenagers of today face unprecedented challenges. The question for many ministries, however, can be what the needs of those teens are, and how to best meet them.
What is your goal?
As a youth leader, whether you are a volunteer or clergy, the first thing you should consider is the overarching goal of your ministry. What are the needs of your youth? How can you meet those needs while growing your youth program?
Many ministries start from the goal of attracting and retaining teenagers, keeping them away from other harmful or even sinful activities. While this is an admirable goal, overall the idea should be to lead their hearts and lives to God. This can mean the difference between temporarily distracting them from danger, and ultimately bringing them into the fold of God in a congregation like Crossroads Baptist Church, where they will dedicate the rest of their lives.
How can you accomplish this goal?
There are many techniques you can use to reach out to youth. Social media, parties, entertainment opportunities, and retreats are just a few of the great ways to catch their attention. But be sure to focus on the lasting qualities of a ministry that will bring teenagers back time and again, even returning to help lead the ministry later on in life.
Entertainment balanced with faithful conversion
Teenagers love to have a good time. They need to feel comfortable enjoying themselves in a safe space. A youth ministry can be the perfect forum for them to relax, enjoy, and make lasting wholesome memories. While planning activities for the youth to enjoy, remember also to tie these wonderful experiences to their faith.
Not only will this be a good time for them to escape the pressures of school, work, and other life challenges, but it can also be a perfect time to give them the tools they need to successfully cope with them. Help them find joy in the gospel, and strength in its teachings. This way they will leave with a sense of strength and encouragement, as well as long lasting friendships.
Many, if not all teenagers, are also in a stage of life where they are seeking for acceptance. Youth ministry can be the perfect place for them to find this sense of unity. Remember to help each of them unite through their common faith, leaving cliques aside. If you see that one or more teens are alone or shy within the group, encourage others in the group to help them out of their shell. This will help build a sense of brotherhood within the ministry, where all are responsible for the inclusion of each other.
This is another strength in good youth ministries. Provide opportunities for leadership among the teens themselves. Often it is encouraged to have the older youth be leaders of activities or projects within the group. This can also be done on a smaller level with the younger teens, helping them see their own ability to lead and strengthen. Remember that the goal is to build their faith in God as well as in themselves. Trusting them with leadership can be the perfect way to accomplish this.
Individual growth leads to ministry growth
These core values focus on the strength of each individual within the ministry. When your main goal is the growth and faith of each teenager, the result will also be a continuous growth in the ministry itself. Strong individuals build a strong group, and attract others to the same cause. When you build confident teenagers who love God and seek to serve Him, you can also be confident that you have achieved the purpose of your ministry.