10 reasons you shouldn't quit youth ministry

I talk to youth leaders all the time. From Pentecostal to Presbyterian, from coast to coast, from urban to suburban to rural, God has blessed me to be in front of all kinds of youth leaders from all kinds of backgrounds consistently throughout the year.

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Stop the insanity in youth ministry by asking the question "What if?"

Someone once defined insanity as "doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results." Isn't this what typical youth ministry is doing? We have the same basic strategies as we did 30 years ago and we are getting the same basic results (maybe even less!)

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How to turn teenagers into teen leaders (just like Jesus did!)

Jesus was a youth leader. When Peter, Jesus and the rest of the disicples went into Capernaum only Peter and Jesus paid the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27). If you cross-reference this passage with Exodus 30:14 it becomes clear that the temple tax was only for those 20 years old and older. 

If I'm reading these passages correctly, Jesus was a youth leader, with only one adult sponsor (and one really rotten kid named Judas.)

But within the span of 3 1/2 years (about the time a typical teenager is in high school minus summer vacations) he turned those teenagers into teen leaders. After the ascension here's how the big dawg religious leaders of the day viewed them, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13.

These teen leaders went on .to take the Gospel to the ends of the world. Some even went on to write books that would be included in the canon of Scripture and be used of God to build the church on a firm theological foundation. 

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Take care of these 4 areas to keep from becoming a ministry statistic

The last few years have been filled with news of famous ministry leaders who are falling morally, abusing finances and leading by intimidation . I can't think of a time, other than the Swaggert/Bakker scandals of the 1980's, where more ministry leaders have fallen in some swirl of ethical disgrace.

But, for every leader that falls morally, there are ten who burn out emotionally and spiritually. I've seen far more ministry leaders leave the ministry out of discouragement than disgrace.

So how do we keep from being another ministry statistic? How do we finish well?

Although my race is not yet completed, God has blessed me to have been in ministry for 30 years. This week marked the 30 year anniversary of a church I co-planted and co-pastored for ten years before launching into Dare 2 Share full-time. Over the last three decades of starting a local church as well as a global ministry, God has given me a few insights into some of the keys to longevity in ministry. 

Here are four of them:

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7 Reasons your church should be a satellite site for Dare 2 Share Live

On October 12th, 2019, Dare 2 Share LIVE will take place once again...and I can't wait! After two years of doing this live simulcast event, we believe its impact will just become greater as more and more churches jump on board as satellite sites. We are sensing huge momentum and it really feels like God is up to something unprecedented through this one-of-a-kind event.

Maybe you've been kicking around the idea of being a satellite site for Dare 2 Share LIVE this year. Here are 7 reasons why you should:

1.  It feels like a movement, not just another event.

Dare 2 Share LIVE started as a simple idea: to do a live, coast-to-coast, teen evangelism mobilization event in 50 cities. But God blew that goal out of the water! We had 68 cities year one! Then it blew up to 93 cities last year!

We have no idea what God will bring this year but we do know that there is growing momentum toward even more saturation of the nation (and beyond!). Why? It's a Gospel advancing movement, not just another youth event. Dare 2 Share LIVE combines all the elements of movement: teenagers, worship, evangelism, prayer and God's Word! It is fast, fun and focused on energizing the Church to mobilize youth to Gospelize their world!

2.  It can unite the youth leaders in your city for a common cause.

In John 17, Jesus prayed that the church would be one as He and the Father are one. The unity of the church in a given city is a living, breathing Gospel testimony that impacts all who see it. What better way to bring unity to a city than through the youth leaders!

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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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The Death and Resurrection of Youth Ministry

"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."                                     1 Corinthians 15:42-44

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The #1 Reason Youth Leaders Quit

Low pay, high stress, discouraging results, no respect, church politics, parental expectations, self-induced pressure....The list of reasons why many youth leaders quit youth ministry could go on and on. 

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7 courageous decisions that could revolutionize your youth ministry in 2019

Instead of New Year's resolutions let's talk about a youth ministry revolution.

Year's ago I devoured Mark Senter's classic book, The Coming Revolution in Youth Ministry. In it he predicted a transformation of the way youth ministry is done. He predicted a massive re-ordering of youth ministry back to the ways of the early church.

This outstanding book was written in 1992 but, sadly, we're all still waiting for the revolution to come. If anything youth ministry seems like it has become more and more institutionalized over the last 27 years or so since Senter's book was written.

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A Gambling Tip for Pastors: Double Down on youth ministry

Double Down: "to double a bet after seeing one's initial cards, with the requirement that one additional card be drawn (in Blackjack). "
 
Although I don't play Blackjack, Poker or even the Lotto for that matter, I believe it's time for you, as a pastor, to lay a new kind of bet, a bet on youth ministry. It's time to double down on the strategic importance of having a thriving youth ministry in your church.
 
Here's why...
 
1.  Family ministry alone is not enough to reach Generation Z.
 
Some pastors are abandoning youth ministry for a purely family ministry approach. The problem is that most of the teens from Generation Z do not come from fully functional, godly homes. So the " family ministry alone" approach cashes out at anything beyond teenagers with spiritually mature parents.
 
Of course, when godly parents are activated to disciple their own teenagers it's a huge win. Homes led by spiritually mature parents can have a green house effect on teen godliness. To continue the gambling analogy, when godly parents are present and active, the odds are stacked in favor of the house (sorry, I couldn't resist!)
 
But in the current culture this is the exception and not the rule.
 
I come from a broken, urban home and never knew my biological father. My guilt-ridden, highly volatile mom was not a Christian. But my life was forever transformed by a youth ministry in the suburbs that invited me in and invested in me. There I found countless spiritual moms and dads who discipled me and equipped me to disciple others. As a matter of fact, at the age of 15, I had the privilege of leading my own mom to Christ and then disciple her.
 
More and more teens today are coming from less and less spiritually stable homes. To reach them will take more than just a typical family ministry approach.
 
2.  An effective youth ministry can be super strategic.
 
When a youth ministry is done well it mobilizes young disciple makers to reach their campuses and communities for Jesus. These teenagers can become a pastor's best church growth plan.
 
According to Barna 2 out of 3 people who come to Christ do so by the time they are 18 years of age. So why wouldn't we focus on reaching and then mobilizing the demographic that is most likely to come to Christ?
 
Sure these young people may not be able to tithe much, but our currency is souls, not cash. Our goal is impact not income. Our vision is advancing God's kingdom not hitting our budget. But I believe that, when we focus on reaching young people with the Gospel, God will honor our efforts and provide every dollar and dime we need to lead our church to the next level.
 
On a practical note, when the parents of these newly reached teenagers see the transformation their kids are experiencing there's a strong possibility that they may come and visit your church too. Yes, a thriving youth ministry can help your church grow on every level.
 
Of course this assumes that your youth leader is building a Gospel Advancing, disciple multiplying youth ministry built on Biblical values, not passing fads. Typical youth ministry done in the typical way will get typical results.
 
Don't lay a bet on the " Start it rocking , get them talking, big fun and then we're done" model of youth ministry. Even when it seems to work there is rarely long-term spiritual maturity in the lives of the teenagers in these youth groups.
 
Like the seeds planted on hard ground in the Parable of the Sower , "...since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word" Mark 4:17.
 
This is exactly what happens when many of the teenagers in these shallow-ground youth ministries head off to college or into the work force. They abandon the faith because they have no deep roots in the faith.
 
Sure, youth ministries can (and should) have tons of sizzle to attract teens in, but they must have steak juicy enough to keep them coming back for more.
 
In this brand of youth ministry the Word of God is taught in a way that makes sense to Generation Z. Teens are activated for the cause that matters most, advancing the Good News of Jesus to what Barna calls the first post-Christian generation in the history of the United States. 
 
3.  It could become your greatest legacy as a pastor.
 
In an excellent sermon entitled " Feed my Lambs" here's what the great preacher Charles Spurgeon had to say about ministering to young people,
 
" We are specially exhorted to feed them because they are so likely to be overlooked. I am afraid our sermons often go over the heads of the younger folk-who, nevertheless, may be as true Christians as the older ones....We are specially exhorted to feed the young because the work is so profitable. Do what we may with persons converted late in life, we can never make much of them. We are very glad of them for their own sakes, but at seventy what remains even if they live another ten years. Train up a child, and he may have fifty years of holy service before him."
 
An effective, foundation-laying children's ministry and an effective mission-driven youth group can unleash an army of game changers into the world and into your congregation. These young people become a farm club for your church and can produce a crop that produces thirty, sixty or a hundred fold!
 
So pastor please don't stop betting on youth ministry! But make sure your youth leader is working the type of youth ministry strategy that's worthy of your wager. To help him/her get there click here.
 
No more hedging your bets when it comes to youth ministry...It's time to double down!
 
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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:

  1. Spend more time in prayer.
  2. Give the gospel consistently.
  3. Train your students to share.
  4. Share stories.

Click for more more on how to lead a Gospel Advancing Ministry.

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