The Case for (The Right Kind of) Youth Ministry

Before I get any flack for concept stealing, I want to let you know that I got permission from my friend Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for Christmas and, The Case for....just about everything dealing with the subject of Jesus, to spin his "Case for" theme toward youth ministry. 

Lee wholeheartedly agreed that this is a message I should tackle. He, too, is convinced that this next generation needs reached and that it's going to take youth leaders, parents and pastors fully aligned with the right kind of philosophy to reach them.

I hesitate to even use the term "right kind of youth ministry" because I'm actually not referring to any particular youth ministry model or program. Models and programs are fine and necessary, but what makes or break them is, not the program itself but the philosophy behind them.

The old business adage, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast" is also true for youth  ministry. When the right kind of culture is present in a youth ministry almost any model or program will work. And when the right kind of culture is not present then it doesn't matter what program or model you have in place, because it's doomed to fail.

But, before I make a case for the right kind (philosophy/mindset) of youth ministry, allow me to make a case for youth ministry in general. Why is youth ministry  strategically important for the church?

Firstly, and this is something we all intuitively know, the VAST majority of people who put their faith in Jesus do so by the age of 18. I'm sure that you, like me, have read the statistics that the younger a person is the more likely they are to come to Christ. 

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The strength of your student leadership team = The strength of your youth ministry

Far too many times when I ask youth leaders about how their youth groups are doing they immediately start talking about attendance numbers. They usually say something like, "Oh pretty good! We are growing! We had 60 in attendance last week!" or, "Well, we are struggling right now a bit. We only had 15 in attendance last week."

But I am convinced that attendance numbers may be among the weaker measures of youth group strength. Those who gauge youth ministry size and youth ministry strength often make the wrong assumption that, just because teens are showing up, they are leading a healthy youth ministry. But people show up at car wrecks, fist fights and circuses too. 

If you imagine Jesus as the ultimate youth leader (because the majority of the disciples were most likely teenagers), you can clearly see he had a different philosophy of youth ministry strength. Think of the crowds that followed Jesus as those who show up in a typical youth group meeting and think of his disciples as his student leadership team. When you begin to read the Gospels through these lenses, it becomes obvious that Jesus didn't gauge his impact by attendance at all. 

As a matter of fact there are several times he seems to try to get rid of the crowds so that he could invest in his leadership team. Luke 15:25-27 is a powerful example of this, "Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  'If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.'"

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Greg Stier

About Me

Hi, I'm Greg Stier, CEO and Founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries. On this blog I share personal experiences about life, ministry, and how we are mobilizing teenagers across America to share their faith. I would love to connect with you. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook or join a move of God at Dare 2 Share.

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4 Ways to GOSPELIZE Your Ministry:

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