Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Next 20 Years of Youth Ministry

After they graduate from high school, how can we set our youth up for the most success? In the secular world, our youth are encouraged to pursue college, internships, networking events, and any other training opportunities that they can take advantage of. When our students attend college or pursue continued education, they don’t receive their diploma or certification after only a few educational films and a few brief lectures. Instead, they actively engage with the subject matter before moving forward. They attend labs, devote hours to homework assignments, study from the notes they take, discuss the lessons among other students, and then finally, through some fashion, show to their instructor that they have absorbed the material enough to be able to move on to their next chapter of life. But what about our students’ spiritual growth? Beyond the sermons we preach and the Christian films we go to see with them, does our church have a system and strategy that successfully launches our students into Christian adulthood?

Why Christianity is Relevant for Our Youth
In a world with an abundance of experts and technology, our youth are not lacking access to truthful information. Instead, they lack the level of relational connectivity from which the truthful information is derived. In other words, our youth are not craving information—they can look it up on their phones. What is impactful to a student is to be involved with opportunities that allow both relationship and truth to be brought together. Through this intersection of faith and life, students can then be able to impact their world within the context of their relationship with Christ. Creating such opportunities is brought about not by giving them more sermons or by organizing more programs; it is instead through more involvement.

Getting the Youth Involved
With recent studies showing a large number of youth leaving our churches across the nation, the future youth ministry through the ‘20s and ‘30s is now being challenged to take on a different approach to how they engage their teens. Where we used to predominantly engage our youth through instruction and programming, today’s cultural landscape now compels us to engage our students through the vehicle of empowerment. While few would disagree with the concept of students becoming involved, how exactly this might look is a conversation that is challenging to navigate.

Continue the Conversation
Many resources and books available on the topic of youth ministry encourage us to involve our students more within the youth ministry, however they oftentimes end the conversation after only listing a handful of examples. Let’s not stop the conversation there. What if instead of a few examples, we dare to imagine a student-led youth ministry, where the majority of a youth ministry’s operations are owned and run by students within your church? Youth Empowered proposes a youth ministry model that incorporates each of your students in a manner that can help them understand who they are in Christ and how to effectively utilize their spiritual gifts for the purpose of ministering to others. Consider ordering a copy today for you and your youth pastor to begin a dialogue on what it might look like to involve the students at your church and begin the journey to having a youth ministry that is adequately prepared for the next two decades (Amazon and Barnes & Noble links can be found at this link). I pray that this resource may be a blessing to your community!

Let's Connect! Follow on Twitter: @SeanBuono

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