1.) Youth Ministry is Comprehensive.
Youth Ministry should be dynamic and respond to the needs of the Youth in the context of their own environment. Youth Ministry is multi-faceted ministry and should encompass evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and worship. Programs should be developed strategically for Evangelism (Both for student-student and adult-student work), Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship and Student-in-Ministry. (Matt 22:37-40, Matt 28:19-20)
2.) Youth Ministry Carries a strong family focus when possible.
a) Empower Families to network in ministry.
While there is a strong pull away from families during adolescence, this individuation should be reinforced within healthy boundaries and youth ministries should help both sides navigate a time that often can feel divisive. Mentoring from other mature families into other families can help parents navigate difficult transitions and adult mentors can help teens understand why and how family is biblical and necessary as they move past adolescence into adulthood. There should be focus on the transition between parent-child to a healthy parent-adult child relationship.
b) Utilize the extended family of the church.
Matthew 12:46-50 has Jesus sitting in a house where his family was outside. Asked about them, he replies “Whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, is my Mother and Brother and Sister.” A huge factor in building up teenage Christ-followers is to engage them in seeing the global church as their extended family and seek out their family when they leave home and root in whatever community they find themselves in. Additionally, the extended family of their local church can pitch-in helping be surrogate parents when their families are either inable or could use additional support in raising their children to follow Christ.
3.) Youth Ministry equips for greatest missional impact.
a) Minister to Lay Leaders
Youth Pastors need to follow the example of Christ and his disciples. Jesus spent ample time with his disciples training them for future ministry and to go out and witness to those in their community. The youth pastor should focus his efforts on equipping lay leaders and increasing their effectiveness in ministry. This trend will multiply the youth pastor’s influence and increase the ability of the church to minister to more youth. The Youth Pastor needs to realize that each leader brings in their gifts and talents and those should be encouraged so they can reach students that the youth pastor may not be able to reach with his giftedness.
b) Lay Leaders to Youth
Youth Ministry should be strategically built in that it intentionally works to build up the core believers in ministerial roles; encourage committed students into further ministry; it pulls congregation students to start the process of being ministers through mentoring; addresses the needs of the larger crowd around them by presenting them with the Gospel message and evangelizing in the local community so that more youth can come to know Him. Programs in ministry should be done with the Youth Ministry and Church Ministry’s purposes in mind. (Matt 22:37-40, Matt 28:19-20)
4.) Youth Ministry is a team sport, networking with both families and volunteers in sight of their spiritual gifting.
Youth Ministry is most effective in a team environment where the Youth Director/Pastor is able to spend a good amount of time mentoring and training the team of adults who desire to work with the youth. In this the knowledge base and experience of the Pastor is multiplied out the maximum extent in the process of enabling other workers to gain important insights and knowledge in how to reach youth for Christ. The Youth Minister is not necessarily the Guru or Expert, but one of many workers who is able to meld the knowledge and experiences of the other workers into blending together a team that can meet the needs of a great diversity of youth. (1 Cor 12:12-26, Rom 15:14, Eph 4:11-12, Prov. 29:23)
5.) Youth Ministry should be woven into the tapestry of the local and global church.
Youth Ministry should supplement and compliment other ministries in the church. It is neither the most nor least important ministry, rather as the Apostle Paul states it is one part of the Body among many. It examine ways to enhance the entire church community as well be supported by that community of believers at the same time. Youth Ministries should be the focus of much prayer. All programs should be prayed over to the extent that the Youth Minister builds prayer teams to lift these programs up. (1Tim 2:1-2, 4:11-16)
6.) Youth Ministry should meet youth incarnationally, where teens are at with the Gospel of Christ.
Students in ministry are fluid and can change dramatically over time. Students making progress can regress and those who are not doing well can make leaps of faith. All students should be shown the love of Christ and exhorted to do the best they can do. The Youth Minister should be sensitive to the needs of the student in the context of their family and peer groups. Students can face pressures from all of these and need a safe haven to explore their faith without fear of rejection or abandonment. (The story of John Mark that is interlaced through the New Testament from Acts 12:12 and 15:39 where he ‘failed’ and seeing him come full circle in Paul’s eyes in 2 Tim 4:11 where Paul calls him ‘useful for his ministry’ as Paul lies on his deathbed is an excellent depiction of this.) (Eph 2:10)
7.) Youth Ministry should not neglect the role of the family in the development of youth.
Likewise, the Youth Minister should be understanding of the needs and concerns of parents and be responsive to them as well without becoming a judge or arbiter of any of the above parties. The story of Jesus in the temple is an example of the Child’s role in perspective to the church and family. Even though Jesus was doing the Father’s work, he subjected himself to his parent’s wishes. This exemplifies where youth fall in perspective to church and family. Even through church then and now is good, and serving God is good, if it happens outside of the directives of the parents it would be outside of the will of God. Therefore the Youth Pastor should team with families to create ministries that honor the family as well as accomplish the Gospel of Christ. (Luke 2:49-51)
8.) Youth Ministry should respect the culture of the community.
Youth Ministry should be tailored to fit each individual church environment and community. Research should be done in both the church and environment to see how the great commission can best be fulfilled in the church. I believe that polling and surveys have no place in determining biblical truths and should not be negotiated as a result of such surveys. Specific programs that will work in one particular church may not work in another. Paul recognized this when he talked to different audiences and presented himself to those audiences in a way that would enable the Gospel message to come across. The Minister should be aware of culture and social dynamics and be a student of many different models of ministry. Then, implement the parts of those models, which will serve to enhance the particular ministry they are working in to effectively reach those in his congregation. (1Cor 9:20-23)
9.) Youth Ministry requires evaluation with integrity.
The Youth Minister should be able to evaluate himself, his staff and his students to best build the team around him so the needs of the students can be filled in a manner that can glorify God and enhance a spirit of community among the youth workers. The Youth Minister should be able to accept constructive criticism and be able to exhort and encourage the workers around him. The youth minister should be an example of the principles of Matthew 18 in his conduct and rapport. He should seek forgiveness when he realizes a wrong and reconcile for the unity of the church. While honoring tradition and cultural norms is good, if tradition blocks spiritual growth and the furthering of the ministry of the church changes need to be made. Changes do not always mean complete overhaul, but can manifest themselves in “tweaking” current systems to increase their effectiveness. (1Th. 5, Matt 20:26-28)
10.) Youth Ministry should network with other Youth Ministries.
The Youth Minister should collaborate with other Youth Ministers in his community and beyond. This should facilitate spiritual growth, peer mentoring, resource sharing and camaraderie. The Youth Minister should be a lifelong learner, gaining more training to increase his effectiveness in the church. He should train his lay workers in areas pertinent to their work with the youth of the church as well as their personal walks with God. (1Th 5:11, Col 4:5)