Some 21st Century Congregational Youth Ministry Basics

I gave some input at a local gathering about some “basics” for a 21st century approach to congregational youth ministry.  This list is by no means exhaustive by any means.  Please feel free to email me with any feedback.

  1. Youth ministry is the sum of all the interactions of a congregation with its young people and between its young people in the name of Christ.  It may include a youth group, but is much more than that e.g. participation of young people in worship, in leadership, in service, in witness. 
  2. Youth ministry is the responsibility and work of the whole congregation.  It is too important to be left to a few youth or young adults to “make happen” for themselves.
  3. Youth ministry can take many different forms, gathered and non-gathered e.g. small groups, mentoring, service projects, mission trips, camping, outdoor adventures.
  4. A key goal of youth ministry is to place as many caring adult Christians in the lives of young people as possible.
  5. The purpose of youth ministry is not entertainment but helping young people grow as disciples of Jesus in a caring environment.  It can and should be fun, but fun is not the goal.
  6. Parents are key people in youth ministry.  What takes place in the home is vital for the faith formation of young people.  Christian parents have a role in advocating for and supporting their congregation’s ministry to and with young people.  Their congregations have a calling to resource and support them for their ministry as parents.
  7. Youth ministry is not about doing things to or for young people, but with them.  It invites young people into ministry that allows them to use their God-given talents and gifts, and takes account of their faith expressions.  A key goal of youth ministry should be youth in ministry.
  8. Effective youth ministry may require that a congregation “clear space” for youth to express their faith in ways that are meaningful and relevant for them.
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