Over on the Slant33.com blog Brian Berry, Michael Novelli and I all were asked to answer this question: What Youth Ministry Cliche Needs To Go Away?
I poured my passion into this post (to read this entire post click here) because the cliche I addressed was a mind shift I had to make early on in my youth ministry career. In the post: I argued the one thing that annoys me is when youth pastors think youth ministry is about only ministering to students.
So if youth pastors are not supposed to only hang out with students, then what do they do? Why should a church pay for a professional youth worker? I think there are two primary tasks that define the role of the youth pastor.
The first task of the youth pastor is to mobilize God’s people to do the work of the ministry to young people. The youth pastor has to figure out how to get the church and the family to work as partners in raising students. God’s people are called and compelled to serve. Therefore, youth workers have to persuade adults they need to serve the next generation.
If the youth pastor is not empowering and equipping more adults to care for students, then no one ever will. Youth workers must approach everyone with the opportunity to work with this incredible next generation. Every youth pastor has to be thinking, How can I get more adults to care for students?
The second task is assimilating students into the church body. The goal of youth ministry is to assimilate authentic disciples into full participation in the life of the community of faith and the church. As Jim Burns of Homeword and Mark DeVries of Family-Based Youth Ministry have said, “The degree to which students will stay in the church, get involved, and make significant life decisions for Christ is directly dependent on their sense of belonging to the church community.”
The aim of any youth ministry must be that students see and experience themselves as participants in God’s family of faith. One of the best and most practical ways for students to play an active role in the life of the church is by creating avenues for them to serve inside the church. Bottom line: The youth ministry programmatic strategy needs to move students from youth group participants to church body participants.
I must admit that during my first year in youth ministry, I thought youth ministry was awesome because I didn’t have to deal with adults. In fact, church adults annoyed me. I thought my job was to be the cool friend to all the youth. After my first year, I realized there had to be a more robust framework. After some seminary education, contemplation, praying, and reading I was convicted that youth workers are theologically responsible to train all generations to care, love, and serve the next generation. The more committed adults the church has to care for students, the more sustainable the students’ faith will be.
It is really tough to change the mentality I only work with students to I mobilize God’s people to care for students. But trust me; getting more committed adults in the lives of students is such a healthier and sustainable way to do youth ministry. So let us shatter this cliché.
What other cliches need to go away?
Do you agree or disagree with me? Why or why not?