Did I fail to create a youth ministry where discipleship was stressed and where building leaders was a value?
The truth is that I didn’t know the answers to those questions. Being a young youth pastor, I failed to recognize the importance of assessment in my youth ministry. So many people in the church, including myself and the pastors I worked with, felt that I was doing a tremendous job because of all the teenagers that were coming. Any assessment I would have done at that time would have been positive, or at least I thought so. It seemed everything was so good because I had created a social group that people loved to come too. Where I failed was to create a youth ministry that breathed life into teenagers and adult leaders.
Since that situation, I have had opportunities to understand the importance of assessment and discipleship in youth ministry. Here are a few ideas to consider when building an authentic youth ministry.
1. It’s a heart issue. After I heard the news of how many students had left the youth ministry along with a few adults, my heart sank. I started asking all kinds of questions about what I did wrong. I realized that I was dealing with eternity here. Was I more concerned about my image or teenagers living for Christ? It hurt. I never what that to happen again.
2. Create a youth ministry that could grow and survive without us. I operate under the understanding of what would happen if I die. Who will continue to love and invest in the lives of teenagers if this were to occur? We have to disciple adults to lead with love, strength, humility and power. My goal is to see the youth ministry completely function without me by investing into adult volunteers for the work of ministry.
3. Aim for discipleship versus building a program that functions like a social club. Teenagers need to see Jesus, walk with Jesus and lead for Jesus. We can always hangout and enjoy each other’s company. However, students who are followers of Christ need to know and understand how and why we follow in the footsteps of Christ. In turn, they are to disciple other peers who know and who do not know Christ if we are to build the Kingdom of God.
I will never create a social group again to show how many teenagers I can get to group. My flesh longs to do it at times, but we must fight that urge to build disciples so the Kingdom of God can grow through multiplication.
Social Club or Youth Ministry…Where do you land?