Over the last few years I've noticed there are an increasing number of churches that are eliminating the youth leader position at their churches and just appointing the catch-all position of family pastor to oversee children through college age. While I'm totally for family ministry (I'm the father of a teenager after all) I do believe that eliminating the youth pastor position in your church is not a good idea.
With this as a backdrop here are 10 reasons why youth ministry (and, therefore, youth leaders) are more crucial than ever for the future of the church:
1. Youth ministry is the best bellwether (i.e. predictor) for the future of the church.
2. As Matt Reagan pointed out to me, youth ministry done well is the best "farm club" for future world changers.
3. Disciple multiplying youth leaders often turn into disciple multiplying church planters and pastors.
4. Well led teenagers can set the pace for prayer and evangelistic excitement church-wide.
5. Teenagers keep the pain reverberating in our society close to the surface so adults can know how to minister to their culture.
6. Godly, loving youth leaders are like parents to an increasingly un-parented generation of teenagers.
7. Teenagers have a built in "bologna barometer" that keeps hypocrites in our churches on their toes.
8. Every great movement of God since the beginning of this nation has had teenagers on the leading edge.
9. Family ministry alone tends to point teenagers inwardly whereas youth ministry tends to point teens outwardly (and, according to Matthew 9:36-38, that's where Jesus pointed his mostly teenaged disciples.)
10. God has chosen the "foolish ones of this world to confound the wise" (1 Corinthians 1:26-29.) If that's not a case for youth ministry I don't know what is.
Pastors, don't give up on youth ministry or youth leaders. Instead help them to build Gospel-Advancing, Disciple-Multiplying youth ministries that set the pace for the entire church.