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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Why  a little bit of "Holy Discontent" is needed for effective youth ministry

It does not take vast amounts of money to fill a nation with the knowledge of the gospel. What it takes is ordinary people, on fire with the love of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, who are willing to tell their families, friends, and casual acquaintances what God has done for them.” Steve Addison in Movements that Changed the World

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If you're discouraged with your youth ministry please read this...

Over the last quarter of a century I've talked to thousands of discouraged youth leaders. I've met them before, during and after our events (and countless others.) Some are discouraged by the apathy of their teenagers. Others are discouraged by the church situation they are in ("Fix-my-kid" parents, dysfunctional leaders, lack of budget, etc.) 

But, underneath it all, there's a deeper, more tragic reason for the discouragement beating in the hearts of many of these youth leaders. The dog that gets kicked is the youth group or the puny budget or the micro-managing pastor. 

But the real problem is systemic. There is something broken in youth ministry and we all, in our most painful moments of quiet reflection, know it.

Typical youth ministry done in the typical way is churning out the same typical results, the same results it's been turning out for decades now. The only change is that our spiritual results are getting worse. Between the forces of packed-to-the-ceiling academic/sports schedules, a crack-like addiction to technology and a growing suspicion of all things absolute, teenagers have been increasingly just not showing up to youth group. 
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3 reasons you must take the time to build a highly effective student leadership team

I'm always surprised when I talk to a youth leader who has no student leadership team. Think of Jesus, just hanging with the crowds, and not investing in the disciples. 

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Train your teens to share their faith using the shockingly beautiful Silhouette Gospel video!

I'll never forget seeing The Silhouettes from America's Got Talent Season six. I was absolutely blown away.

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7 compelling reasons you should stay in youth ministry

Youth ministry can be highly rewarding and highly discouraging...sometimes all within the span of an hour. Helicopter parents, apathetic teenagers and eye-rolling, finger-wagging church leaders can all combine to become a slow-moving vortex of depression that churns deep in the soul of the average youth leader.

So why stay in such a low-pay, high-pressure position? Why not escape to get a "real job" in ministry, a job where you are loved and respected...and where the pay is more than the typical Barista's?

Here are 7 compelling reasons to stay in youth ministry:

1.  Teenagers come to Christ quicker than adults.

According to Barna 2 out of 3 people put their faith in Jesus by the age of 18. After that, the odds go way down. In the words of my grandpa, "Get the gettin' while the gettin's good." And the salvation gettin' is good before the age of 18

2.  Teenagers spread the Gospel faster than adults.

Because the average teenager has well over 400 online and face-to-face friends they have a huge (and growing) opportunity to share the Gospel like no generation before them. Generation Z, the nickname for this generation of teens, is filled with "Digital natives." They're called this because they've never known a time without digital devices and social media. And because of this they have an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the spread of the good news through their many social media channels.

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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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