A few days ago I asked this question about the “why” of youth ministry: Is there any good or compelling reason that we continue to pour heart and hands, effort and energy into this work of youth ministry … or am we just keeping the car running? What do we find in Scripture that convinces us that this work matters and God calls us to it?
That post laid out a rationale for “why youth ministry” and contained my first three convictions. Here’s the rest.
4. Youth ministry is student work. The church faces a world in which many adolescents are both far from God and in the dark – and yet none less than Jesus himself is seeking them through the work of his Spirit. Where possible, the church must partner with the family for the sake of declaring the gospel to the next generation (Ps. 71:16-18). But just as the church doesn’t forsake the parents but must equip them to (re)discover their God-given role in the discipleship of their kids, it must not also forsake the kids and students who do yet know Christ. That means the work of training and equipping adults and students from the church to go out and share in the mission: seek students, stand with them, speak out for them, love them, and bear witness among them to Christ at work in their midst.
5. Youth ministry is welcoming work. The church must welcome kids/students into its communal life of worship and witness and BE the extended family of God to those who have been abandoned. If Paul can talk about the church as the place of new humanity in Christ where Jew and Gentile stand before Christ together, it must be the place for adults and kids together in one body. When churches are tempted to divide by age, they must remember that to welcome kids is to welcome the Lord himself (Mk. 9:33-37). Our welcome here IS our worship (Rom 15:7-9). Part of making a home for kids and students means taking pains to make the long-term commitment to walk beside them into maturity as a whole human being renewed in Christ, ready to take up their vocation in this world.
6. Youth ministry is desperate work. To persist in this ministry you must heed the call of God to know him for his sake, to follow him in full knowledge of the cost, and to boast only in his cross. You must loosen your control, let go of outcomes, and lift your eyes to the risen Christ who speaks to your timid heart: “Take courage! It is I: do not be afraid… and I am with you. Always.” Fix your eyes on Him, make your prayer that of Paul in Phil. 3:9-14, and devote yourself to the work of the Lord because none of it goes to waste (1 Cor. 15:58).