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What Youth Ministry IS and What It ISN'T

Our friend and ym360 Contributor, Andy Disher, asked two questions the other day on his Facebook Wall that got me (and several others) thinking: What is Youth Ministry? And what isn't Youth Ministry? Simple questions. Fun questions. And man, it really got me thinking. (Way to go, Dish!) There were a lot of responses on Andy's Wall. He even wrote a couple blog posts about it, which you can access by clicking here. I wanted to use this space today to answer these questions in my own way. But, I thought we might have a little fun, as well. After reading my responses, why don't you give your responses here, as well? You can leave them in the comments below, or, if you have a blog, write a blog post about it. If you leave a trackback, or a comment telling me you've written a blog post, I'll come back in this article and link to your blog. UPDATE!!!

  • Paul Martin, one of the best youth ministry thinkers and practitioners I know, posted his thoughts at his blog, Being Ministry. Check it out!
  • Add another! The latest to post a response is Phil Bell! Phil's blog is one of my favorite youth ministry blogs. I love his take on the question. You can check it out here!

  So, here we go . . .

What is Youth Ministry? Youth Ministry is . . .

  • Built on the Foundation of Knowing and Living Out God's Word. If we don't start here, nothing else matters.
  • Relationships. It is the language of what we do.
  • Disciple-making. Walking with students on their journey of discipleship is the heart of youth ministry.
  • Sacrifice. Enough said.
  • Managing Expectations. We should always expect great things from students, yet, always remember we work with teenagers.
  • Relentless Commitment. Not just to students (that's the easy part), but to all other stuff that we sometimes want to run from.
  • Vulnerability. It's key.
  • Communication. Because without it, our greatest plans or goals are crippled.
  • Rising Above Our Limitations. Trusting that God has empowered us to do the task He has called us to, and relying on His strength.
  • Messy, Emotionally. (This is actually a good thing.)
  • Messy, Literally. (Paintball, mud football, water day at camp, and so on.)
  • Frustrating. Just a part of it. The goal is to roll with it.
  • Hilarious. Always.
  • An Invitation Into Other's Lives. And this may be one of the most rewarding aspects.
  • Teaching. With words and actions
  • Respect. Given to students, and expected in return.

We'd love to hear your thoughts, as well, on what you think youth ministry is.

Now, What is Youth Ministry NOT? Youth Ministry is Not . . .

  • Entertainment for entertainment's sake.
  • A baby-sitting service or a travel agency.
  • Yours. The ministry you are a part of is God's. You are (or should be) a steward.
  • An attempt to imitate culture in our programs or language.
  • Poorly executed. This has nothing to do with production. This has everything to do with proficiency.
  • You spending your energy on trying to look cool.
  • About competition with the other churches in your community.
  • A one-person show.
  • A separate church within your church.
  • You trying to be a student's BFF.
  • About numbers, programs, or production value.
  • Boring. Seriously.
  • Unnecessary. If your youth ministry is not playing a vital role in the loves of your students and in the life of your Church, shouldn't you ask yourself if what you are doing is working?

Again, we'd really love your thoughts on what youth ministry isn't. Share them in the comments below, or link us to your blog post where you come up with your own list. And a big "THANKS" to Andy Disher for starting us off on this thread. Hope to hear some great thoughts from you, too! Have an awesome day.

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