As our youth ministry is entering a new season I want to briefly share with you what are important foundations that I believe to be essential for the practice of youth ministry. Before I share, I acknowledge this is not a perfect or complete list, but I believe almost, if not all, vital pieces of youth ministry call fall into these foundational categories.
- Discipleship – this is key as its aim is to help youth take ownership of their faith. Many things fall under the umbrella of discipleship, but for our youth group we will seek to grow in discipleship through committing to spiritual practices, becoming theologians, striving for personal and social holiness and committing to some of the foundations below. A disciple imitates the one they are following and learning from. For us we will seek to imitate Christ in the world as we continually learn from and follow him.
- Community – We are created to be in relationships with one another. Christian community is essential as we support, encourage, and sustain one another through all of life. Our community grows as we become authentic, vulnerable, bearing each others burdens, and sharing our true selves. This happens in worship, serving, small groups, over a meal, at the movies, and so on
- Mission – Joining in God’s redemptive work in the world. Jesus calls us to a life of generosity, sacrificial love, embodying compassion and participating with the Spirit to usher in the kingdom of God. Together we will work to help this world be the one God dreams for it to be.
- Evangelism – Let’s be honest this is scary word, both for people in the church and for people not apart of a church community. The “E” word is not about converting people to your way of thinking, it is about bearing witness to God’s love in all of life’s circumstances that you and your friends face. Through our presence and lives we share with another that there is hope, love, healing, restoration, reconciliation, acceptance and community found in the loving arms of God and through the extension of the church. Evangelism is about how we live our lives as people who are changed by Christ to follow the way of Christ to serve and love all people
- Worship – Our lives are to be expressions of worship to God. Our weekly designated time of worship is so vital to our faith community. We experience God through song, prayer, scripture, spoken word, sacraments, giving, artistic expression and more. Community worship joins us with one another to seek after God with the wholeness of our lives as individuals and as a community
- Student Leadership – Youth should not just be recipients of a youth ministry, but in their receiving they seek to give and lead others. Youth should have a strong voice in the direction that their youth group is heading. Whether is in helping put together retreats, lead Bible studies, lead worship, or planing and organizing serving opportunities, youth should be involved in leading the youth ministry
- Parents – Youth ministry is a shared ministry. Parents play the most important role in the spiritual lives of their children. Youth ministry should partner with parents to help build a community of support with one another while providing resources to equip and support them, and to provide space to listen to their needs and concerns so we can most faithfully and effectively partner together.
- Counselors – A youth ministry is essential and of utmost importance. A healthy youth ministry leadership team leads to a healthy youth ministry. A team allows youth to have multiple adults as mentors and people to go when life hurts. A team provides multiple people pouring into the lives of each youth. A team allows multiple voices, perspectives and ideas to come together to build a healthy youth program. Without a team of caring, committed, and passionate adults, youth ministry cannot happen.
- Pastoral Care – Youth experience a world of hurt, rejection, pain, trying to fit in, and many other obstacles. Youth ministry is about embodying the presence of God in the lives of youth who are in the midst of pain and hurt. You don’t have to be a pastor to provide pastoral care. Together we can care for one another and point to the God who joins with us in solidarity in the midst of our pain.
Feel free to comment any thoughts, questions, or anything that was left out!