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Another question: Youth Ministry

Another question for you all:

I’m teaching a workshop about youth ministry for the district this weekend. My personal experience with youth ministry is mostly at the conference and jurisdictional level (I'm the conference youth coordinator for NCNY) – I have, actually, comparatively less experience with the youth ministry of the local church.

If you could make sure people knew one thing about youth ministry, what would it be? What are the most important things to know about youth ministry?

I suspect many people want to know what to do with small membership youth groups. What do you do when you have two, three, four kids? My own initial youth group experiences were in a group about this size. My youth group leader, who was the pastor, let us focus mostly on fellowship and having a good time. As long as we could come and have fun, we stuck with it. Eventually, we grew into something larger, and could make bigger plans - trips, mission projects, devotional time.

What do you do with small number youth groups? Have you grown a youth ministry from small numbers?


David said…
Be organized, have a plan, communicate that plan. It saves much stress for everyone and makes it easier to invite others to participate, as co-leaders and as youth, as well as proving to the Board of the local church that this is a legitimate and viable ministry.
Willie Deuel said…
Cliche number one: the youth are the future of the church. Nope. They are the church now!

Where two or more are gathered, etcetera etcetera, etcetera.

While the adults may not recognize what the youth are doing as "church," since it probably does not resemble their stereotype of worship, the genuineness of simply being themselves and being real in God's house is authentically church.
there is a resource/curriculm from cokesbury on small membership groups. i have not read it, but i've been more impressed with the youth resources over the past few years that abingdon has put out.

i would probably mention that a shift from the activity driven youth ministries over to a presence & being type ministries is happening. kids don't need so much another activity but people that will invest in their lives in relationship. if you have urban contexts to speak to i would give shane raynor a call, he's doing some challenging things in a tough context.
TN Rambler said…
I've reviewed the small membership resource that Gavin refers to. It has some good ideas. However, I haven't used it because our youth "group" consists of siblings from 1 family. So, our "group" is actively involved with the (much larger) youth group at another UMC in town...the benefit for the youth is that they are involved with an active (spiritually and activity wise) group with lots of youth from their school.

I have received criticism from some of our members who believe that this is just an invitation for this family to leave the church. So far, that hasn't happened and the ones who are complaining the most aren't doing anything to invite others here anyway so I try to ignore them. However, that's getting off the subject.
Gerrard Fess said…
Youth Ministry being relational is key. Sometimes the best youth ministries are the smaller ones where you can invest alot of time and effort into discipling and mentoring.
The most important thing to know about Youth Ministry? Don't lead it unless you have a heart for youth. I truly love the youth in my Church, and thankfully I know that I am not the one to lead them. That's why we have a great Youth Minister.
Jedi Pastor Ken said…
First thing I always told people, do not try to measure your success on the emotional, mental or spiritual state of a 13 year old. You'll fail every time.

Everybody has raised some good points. I've been really wrestling with the ideas from Brenda Seefeldt @

There needs to be a place for youth to go that makes meaning but they are still going to take their cues on faith from dads and moms. Regardless of the church size, regardless of opposition and tensions, I believe this is an area a youth minister/director/leader needs to address.

I'm not saying it will grow a youth group big or spectacular, but it sure seemed to help me and our churches to grow up kids who are still passionate about the Kingdom.
Anonymous said…
john said…
I like to emphasize that youth are not a show for the rest of the congregation. Their participation is just as valid and inspiring as someone twice their age.

Limiting their input to certain Youth Sundays or events only broadens the gap the church sees between them. That just goes along with the idea of our youth being the church of today.

I would also want to make sure to include time to mention working with volunteers.
Anonymous said…

I am/was with you at convocation and watched your demonstration on blogging. Considering the obstacles to this type of seminar at the olocation, I believe you all did excellent.

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