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The goal for youth ministry basically boils down to introducing teens into a relationship with Christ that will help them grow into a follower. There are so many different ways to do that through service, Bible study, small groups, and worship. But, in the end no matter how relational, or missional your youth ministry is, it needs a consistent gathering where you can come together to worship God and grow.
So, what does that look like? What does a basic weekly gathering stripped of bells and whistles look like? It’s easy to compare yours to others and get caught up in the hype of youth ministry; however, if it doesn’t have a solid foundation it will crumble. For us the basic building blocks to our youth ministry gathering are:
- Hospitality – There have been times when I’ve waited at the door for teens to come in only to realize that it isn’t unlocked. As the teen walks up they pull on the door, turn back to their parent with an expression, “No one is here I told you!” And then they are surprised when I unlock, open and say, “Sorry, forgot that door, so glad that you are here.” When teens walk into your ministry you have no idea what their day has been like. That’s why it’s essential to have warm, and loving hospitality. When they feel welcome and accepted, they’ll come back.
- Music – Whether you have a full blown band or one person leading the group in song, music can have an emotional experience. While you want a genre that is relevant to what they are hearing, in the end the most important aspect of your music is that it is done well. That means the worship leader must be dedicated, and the students in the band must practice together. If finding a worship leader is a struggle my recommendation is budgeting for one if possible. They’re preaching a message, just in a different format from what you are doing.
- Message – Just like music, a youth minister’s message has to be practiced and done at a level of excellence. This is the moment when you lay down truth and bring all back to Jesus Christ. While the hospitality breaks the ice and music opens up their hearts, it’s with the message that you plant a seed that will change their life. Carefully choose your words, receive people’s feedback before you deliver and give them an application for their life.
- Small Groups – The teenagers in your community hear advice and voices from the peers and the world on a regular basis. Small groups gives them the opportunity to hear insight and wisdom from God honoring adults. It allows them to grow together with their peers and have Christ at the center. Whether they are discussing your message or sharing what’s going on life, small groups lives out Proverbs 27:17.
While there are other aspects of ministry that are important to the growth and health, it’s these four that lay down a proper foundation. You don’t have to be complicated, extravagant and go for the “Wow” factor. In fact, it’s about building relationships. Before Jesus asked his disciples to go into the world, he invited them into his life, sat with them and built trust. Do that with your youth ministry gatherings.
Share your thoughts. What components would you build a ministry on?