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My Youth Ministry Bucket List

My Youth Ministry Bucket List

We’ve all heard the term “bucket list” thanks to the successful movie by the same name featuring  Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. If you recall, the two leading characters were both terminally ill. The movie revolves around the idea of completing a “bucket list,” a list of things a person would like to do before, well, kicking the bucket, so to speak.

It occurred to me the other day that I have a sort of bucket list for my youth ministry.  It has nothing to do with dying. Rather, it’s a list of things I want my students to be taught at least once each year.

I feel so passionate about these spiritual principles and concepts that as I look ahead, I want to make sure these things are either in my teaching plan or things the students will be exposed, to in some way, each year they’re in our ministry.

Here’s my bucket list of spiritual principles for my youth ministry:

How To Accept Christ
This may seem basic to some, depending on the students in your ministry. But it can’t ever be overlooked.

God's Love Never Changes
Students have so many conditional love relationships these days. They need to know that as a child of God, His love is not dependent on their nature but on His.

Life Is Not Fair
OK, so, this one isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. But, neither is life! I noticed years ago the issue of “fairness” comes up quite often in working with students. Students need to know that God created the world to be fair and perfect but the sin of Adam and Eve changed all of that. We live in a world of imperfect people and imperfect systems. Life is going to be unfair sometimes. But it doesn’t change God’s character, His true desire for the order of things, and the fact that one day He’ll restore His intended order where perfect fairness rules.

You Have a Spiritual Gift
Students need to know God has given them at least one spiritual gift to use in the work of the Kingdom.

Teaching the Biblical model of serving and giving students an opportunity to serve is vital to a healthy youth group.

The World Does Not Revolve Around You
I started to make this number one. Society caters to today’s teenagers, oftentimes starting in the home. I’ve noticed over the years that many teenagers have a hard time considering the needs of others, or the concept of “group.” The spirit and effectiveness of our mission trips changed when I started telling our teenagers before even signing up that the trip was not going to be about them, and that they were signing up to serve not to be served. I want students to move from selfishness to selflessness.

So, these are sort of the core of my ministry principles.

I wonder what your youth ministry bucket list looks like?

What are the most important things you want your students to learn? How can you incorporate those things in your yearly plan either through teaching or through special events like camp and mission trips?

About The Author

Richard Parker

Richard Parker

Richard Parker is the resident youth ministry guru at YM360. Richard has served as a youth minister for the past 41 years. ("Shockingly, he was Les' youth minister yet STILL decided to stay in ministry"!) He is currently co-pastor and student minister at a new church plant, Branches Church, in Russellville, AL. Richard serves as a special projects editor and staff writer. Richard wrote YM360's "REACH: A 6 Lesson Study on the Book of Psalms" and has contributed on all of YM360's ongoing curriculum projects. He's also written many of YM360's free lessons, devotions, and blog posts. He and his wife Amy have two daughters, Lauren and Leah, one granddaughter and one grandson.