Students need to see themselves as missionaries to the people around the world and to the people around in their neighborhoods and school campuses.
How many of our students really see themselves as a called and sent people to represent the reign of God? In our youth ministry teachings are we using this type of language? Do youth pastors really see their teenagers having the capacity and ability to usher in the Kingdom of God into it’s town?
Youth pastors need to develop a firm theology and understanding of missional leadership. According to Darrell Guder, in Missional Church: The purpose of leadership is to form and equip a people who demonstrate and announce the purpose and direction of God through Jesus Christ.
My assumption: students have the ability to be missional leaders.
So how the heck does a youth pastor figure out what the mission is for his/her youth ministry?
1. Clarify and observe the local context and identify the needs
2. Define the church culture and locate it’s values
3. Determine who are the committed students
Now the youth pastor will know the real needs of the community, the theology and sociology of the church, and what students see themselves as a committed called and sent people of God. Observing the context and locating the needs will steer the youth pastor and his/her students in the direction of their youth ministry mission that will mobilize them to bring the Kingdom of God here and now.
Having a contextualized youth ministry mission will make your youth ministry distinct and unique. And it will mean the youth pastor is being obedient to how God is working in and through their specific context.
I get excited hearing about youth ministries that are putting students on mission.
Top 5 ways to detect if youth ministries are NOT mission focused:
1. Budget allocation. How much money is being spent on equipping students to be missionaries vs program management?
2. Solus Pastor. The solus (solo) youth pastor doesn’t partner or work with other “people” or organizations outside of their church community.
3. Small groups are at the center of their discipleship program.
4. 80% of their youth ministry calendar involves being “at church”. Therefore the true missionary is the youth pastor on stage and not the students.
5. Students leadership means serving IN the church. Basically students serve the church and not the community.