Raising the Bar of Expectations in Youth Ministry

movement to family-integrated ministry in the church, which contains many guys who say that Youth Ministry is dividing the church and driving students away from biblical Christianity. When I hear of Sr. Pastors telling Youth Pastors that they aren’t cut out for the role of Youth Pastor if they can’t have fun, then I think, “Well, maybe those guys are right; maybe Youth Ministry is ruining the church.” I have a few friends who get enraged every time or anytime this Family-Integrated movement gets brought up, and they have good reason. But when I sit back I see that what they are saying has an unfortunate amount of truth to it in the status quo. I was recently having a few different conversations with leaders and students about the end goal of our ministry, and it brought up this sort of trend that I’ve seen come about, from my perspective, as a bit of a result of the above sort of dialogues. I feel like  Youth Ministry has become so concerned with those statistics of how many students drop out of church after Youth Group, mixed with the ideas of not having too much fun, or having too much fun, being relevant or not worrying about playing catch up with the world. The effects of all of these things have sort of lead to a dumbed-down version of Expectations in Youth Ministries across the country, where we might put on paper or tell others we expect great things from our students after they graduate, but if we truly evaluated our Youth Ministries, our budgets, our events, our messages, we’d see something else. I think too many Youth Ministries have the basic expectation of keeping students connected to church after High School. To be honest, I think some Youth Groups have the end game of just keeping students connected to the church while IN High School. I can’t help but think that we should be chasing more. I would never go as far as to say those guys in the Family-Integrated Movement are 100% right and Youth Ministry needs to be abolished. But I have felt for several years that I agree with the sentiment completely that Youth Ministry is broken right now. I look at some of the best ministries around and feel like they, at best, are stop gap measures, maybe slowing down the pervasion of culture. But I don’t see any Youth Ministries that are truly changing the culture of their schools, who are pushing back the advance of evil, who are rallying their students to life long commitments of Kingdom work. I think we need to re-evaluate our ministries directions and goals, and raise the Bar of what we expect from our students after being in our ministries for 6 years. Because if continued church attendance is all we’re going to strive for, should we really be getting a paycheck?]]>

4 Comments

  1. I think this is great conversation starter. What would you say is purpose of youth ministry as a whole? Apart from singular vision given to everyone for the specific ministry they are called to, but as youth ministry across the nation and world? What would the goal look like? I think this is the launching platform for our ministries, we must identify the end result, and work backwards from there -- each applying to our own individual ministry context, but shouldn't there be an overarching aim as youth pastors, whether in Suburban or rural areas, poor or rich, etc? Curious to know your thoughts.
    • Hey Aaron, sorry just saw this comment 19 days later. whoops! I'd say the purpose of Youth Ministry as a whole whether suburban or rural, poor or rich, is to make disciples of Christ, to move students into greater knowledge and relationship with God. How that plays out in local contexts can be different, and I may not be articulating it great, but for me thats it. If a Youth Ministry isn't leading students to Christ, to a great walk with Him, what are they doing?
  2. Something I would caution is to know your culture and if you feel a shift of direction is needed, try to not yank the rug out from under your people too quickly. It's easy to get passionate and legitimately concerned about the direction you are leading your dear students and cut out all the fun; run to the other extreme if you will. For a community who only knows that church involves fun/games/trips for the youth (often times more rural setting), it can feel like a bandaid being ripped off. Slow and steady, constantly evaluating, constantly seeking to include parents in the process.

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