u t h p s t r
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youth ministries [not youth group]

at the national youth workers convention, there was a course i took on rethinking youth ministry models. one question they asked was, “what if your ministry didn’t have to worry about the pressure and performance of weekly programing?” it got me thinking about how relevant our group stuff is versus having more regular time hearing about their lives, their struggles and what moves their heart.

in a conversation today with a friend, duane smith, i started to think seriously about this some more. what if instead of running youth groups, we enabled adult leaders to lead their own youth ministries based on the ideas and topics and things that move them? you don’t drop everything, but you cut back on the programing to enable the leaders to start their own ministries to students. one may revolve around social justice. another may be outdoor ministry. another reading books on life and faith. and still another doing service projects. find a leader connect them with students and a cause or a common interest.

maybe a better way to describe it would be smaller youth groups that move with the students throughout their middle and high school years. you meet all together from time to time for worship, fun or encouragement, but then the rest of the time its the leaders and students doing their thing. [EDIT: one good clarification from a comment would be that you don’t just let the smaller groups be nothing more than all outdoors or all service projects.  that would not develop a more well rounded disciple of Christ.  they may gravitate to those activities, but you also have their leaders stretch them into other areas of life and ministry discovering what God’s word has to say about them along the way.]

the youth pastors job becomes the coach, coordinator and taking care of the common time. the youth pastor also spends more time in the schools, sporting events and working with families. [EDIT: the youth pastor would also work to encourage the adults to be a part of these events as well.  having the youth pastor at the events allows him to keep in contact with students and continue to connect them with the smaller groups they might fit best in.]


if by chance anyone reads this who is in youth ministry, give me your honest critique. this is my initial thinking, but could it work into a realistic and practical ministry plan? could it move students closer to living CHRIST?

pax: ty



4 Responses to “youth ministries [not youth group]”

  1. ok, so i’m not ‘officially’ in youth ministry anymore…right now, do i get to share some thoughts?

  2. Makes sense in my mind!

  3. I like the way you describe it in the third paragraph a wee bit better than in the second. Modeling a ministry as described in the second may lead … may because it all depends on the overall leadership … to one-dimensional students. That is a student who is into the outdoors gravitates to the outdoors leader, but never stretches to the social justice or reading sectors.

    The third paragraph’s description, however, sounds intriguing. It would give students an adult presence that wouldn’t disappear in the transition from middle to high school (provided it is structured that way). I would have to think it would create deeper relationships between the adults and the students in the smaller group, more of a mentor model.

    The other thing … the YP could go to the games, etc. but I think it would be highly appropriate for the small group leader to be there.

    Bottom line … I think it’s practical if you have the volunteers to pull it off and can sell the church leadership on the idea.

  4. Yeah, I think it has the potential to work great. The issue is having enough adults who are passionate about students and more importantly God. Right now our ministry is growing via the small groups model. I lead the large group stuff but my leaders do the rest. The students love it. Our groups are not split via “Common interest” but by grade level. 9th grade guys meet with 9th grade guys and then the hope is that the leaders will lead them for many years. Trust and mentoring happens this way. Our small groups have given the teenagers someone else to talk to besides me. It takes a lot of training, some messy stuff (What happens when a group gets to big, and confidentiality issues). I love the idea. If you are able to break it down via interest it would add another element.

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