Building A Youth Ministry On The Foundation Of God And His Word
The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
This understanding is nothing more than a knowledge of God and His ways.
If asked to sum up our purpose in being a youth worker, many of us would say something like "it's to both lead students to a saving relationship with Christ, and to take them deeper in this faith (and all that implies)." This is impossible without God's Word!
Calvin once said, "Unless God's Word illumine the way, the whole life of men is wrapped in darkness and mist, so that they cannot but miserably stray." (Man, the English Lit major in me wishes people still talked like that.) It's important to remember how Scripture talks about the Word of God. Here are some awesome examples:
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. - Isaiah 55:10-11
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12
The farmer sows the word . . . Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown. - Mark 4:14-20
I want you to answer this question. Don't read it and keep going. Stop for a second and actually think about it:
Is teaching teenagers God's Word foundational in your ministry?
Stop! Don't just keep reading. Take a moment to consider this. Because it's easy for us to think we're doing it. Because hopefully, all of us have times in our ministries (hopefully many times) where there are "touch points" with Scripture. But take a second to reflect on your programs and initiatives and answer these questions . . .
- Does God's Word really have a central place in your ministry programming and philosophy?
- Do students leave their time in your youth ministry with an understanding of the Bible's big-picture narrative of God's plan of redemption (from Genesis to Revelation)?
- It's not enough to talk about God's Word. Is your ministry focused on teaching the Word to your students? Most importantly, are you teaching teenagers to study the Bible for themselves? To answer this, you must ask the tough question, "What specific programs or initiatives am I doing to make sure students are LEARNING the Word?"
- Knowledge without application is useless. Are your teenagers thinking about how the biblical principles they're learning are to impact their actions, thoughts, worldview, and so on?
- Are you bridging the gap between Church and home? After all, you're responsible for a few hours a week. There is only so much you can do. Do you provide parents with the motivation and the tools necessary to make sure a commitment to Scripture is seen at home and at Church?
There is nothing more important in a person's life than knowing God. The Bible is the fullest way God has chosen to make Himself known to us. Therefore, we can't know Him without knowing the Bible.
If we want our students to know God, we must make His Word a top priority in our ministries. And this might mean taking a long look at how your programming and philosophy actually serves this end.