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10 (Random) Youth Ministry Thoughts: Vol. 4

10 (Random) Youth Ministry Thoughts: Vol. 4

Fall is upon us! It's September, which means football games and the excitement (dread?) of back-to-school. And another month brings another installment of 10 (Random) Youth Ministry Thoughts

This is where I share some of the loose youth ministry/discipleship truths that are too short for a blog post, and too long for a tweet. (To browse the other volumes, simply CLICK HERE.)

So without further ado, here are 10 MORE random youth ministry thoughts. 

1. We've all had a student or adult make an inappropriate comment during small group or Sunday School. Often I'll find myself trying to reframe or restate this sort of comment in an effort to give the student (or adult) the benefit of the doubt. I'm trying to give them a chance to say, “Yeah, THAT'S what I was trying to say!” Sometimes, however, the best response to an inappropriate comment or response is silence. It's a really, really effective tool to communicate how off-base a comment was.

2. I'm learning one of the most important word when dealing with our students' parents: empathy.

3. Often we take too much credit when things go right in our students' lives and too much blame when they don't. I know I do. The painful truth (and I mean painful) is that we probably have less influence than we think we do. In a given week, a teenager has 168 hours to spend. If we're lucky, we're allowed two or three hours, max, per week with a student, less than 2% of their week.   

4. We only have 2% of our students' weekly time!!!!!!! This is more than enough motivation to make our limited time with students count. The role we play in our students' lives is too important to jeopardize by complacency.

5. I encounter a fair number of youth workers who pushback whenever the discussion turns to understanding youth culture. There is the implication that doing the work to understand the world our students live in is somehow a tangent to teaching students to know God. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus was a master in tailoring the Gospel to the culture of His listeners. So was Paul. We must be too.

6. As much as possible, we need to strive to include your volunteers and/or parents in key decisions. It's their ministry as much as it is ours.

7. This is my personal opinion so take it with a grain of salt. But I have never seen the spiritual or relational logic of having teenagers worship separately from their parents. There really is no sound Scriptural or theological basis for this. If your reason for having teenagers worship separately from their parents (and the rest of their local congregation) is motivated by facilities or programming, you've lost your way. We have to be a champion for families. Few things are more precious that a family worshipping together. In my opinion. :)

8. We all want to see spiritual growth in our students' lives. But when it doesn't happen, or it is really slow in happening, the relationship itself has to be enough. There is no healthy relationship with a teenager that will ever return void. It may be years down the road, but if the relationship is there, when it's God's time to truly work on that students' heart, we just may be the person he or she decides to call. 

9. More and more in my ministry, I spend a ton of time talking about influence. I am constantly asking my students how they are influencing the world around them in the name of Christ. Not all students are leaders. But almost every one of our students has someone they influence. 

10. I make sure my small group guys know that our group is a safe place for sharing. This includes blowing off steam about their parents. However, my co-leader and I have always been clear: we have their parents' backs. My students know this. And their parents know it. There's a place for healthy venting. But if we ever present mom and dad as anything other than God's sanctioned authority in their lives, we're blowing it.

Hope these spark some thought in you and your ministry team. Thanks for stopping by. 


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