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3 Theological Foundations Shaping 21st Century Youth Ministry Strategy

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Over the past 3 years, I have really been thinking about what theologies are youth workers responding to?  How are youth pastors thinking theologically?

I strongly believe all youth ministries not only need a strategy but a theological emphasis.  The youth worker allows the Scriptures to shape their ministry strategy and programs, and not the reverse.  Here are 3 theological foundations that are influencing the trenches of youth ministry:

(1) Family Ministry (Deut 6 and Proverbs 1:8-9):  There is an insane increase of young-kidless youth pastors who know mom and dad are the primary spiritual leader in a student’s life.  Student pastors are on mission to get the family and community involved in the life of a teen.  Student pastors are realizing that shepherding does not happen from stage but at home and with an adult small group leader.

(2) Spiritual Formation (Galatians 5):  Spiritual formation is a sexy term for sanctification.  Spiritual formation in youth ministry is all about developing the “whole (shelom)” student.  The formation process happens when Biblical knowledge is mixed with experience, and the encountering and revealing of the Holy Spirit.

(3) Missiology(Luke 10.1-3): Youth ministries are wanting to be marked as a place that sends young people out that demonstrates the Kingdom of God to others.  More and more students are wanting to do Jesus style of ministry outside of the church.  Students are wanting to become missionaries across the world and across the street so they can restore the world.  Basically youth pastors are reminding teenagers their entire life is missionary work so at the age of 12 they better get to work if they said the “sinners” prayer.

I think it is cool that there are a lot of youth workers thinking theologically so they know for a fact their youth ministry ways are the teachings of God.  In the next 10 years, if youth ministry does these 3 theologies really well, youth ministry will be on a great trajectory.


Do you agree or disagree with my assessment?

What are some other theologies shaping youth ministry?


About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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  1. I agree that these three theologies are at the forefront of student ministry right now. I’d add that there is one underlying theme among them. All three are about restoration.
    Restoration of the family as a spiritual entity leads to restoration of the individual as a whole person leads to restoration of the world as God’s kingdom.
    I’m excited about serving in a ministry that is more about creating wholeness than about pizza parties or gross out games. I think our teens are too.

  2. Jared, I understand that you are talking about a consistent diet of pizza party youth ministry, and I agree. I would also add that it is not either or but both.

    This summer is an all out fun blitz suing team games etc. At the end each tribe gathers for prayer. I told them the other night, “Aren’t you glad that God is the God of recreation and fun as well as worship service.”

    The same God of worship is the God of the messy game. The pendulum continues to swing from all fun and no formation to all formation and no fun. God is, and has to be, the God of both, otherwise students think uptight is an attribute of God.

    • Oh, I’m all for fun. I just think there needs to be something bigger, which is exactly what I think you are saying as well.
      One of the greatest sermons I’ve ever heard was one on the importance of fasting and praying AND the importance of feasting and playing. All four things are Biblical and healthy.
      Like you said, the pendulum tends to swing to one extreme or the other, but the most successful ministries are doing both/and.

  3. Great blog post. I have subscribed to your blog, and it has helped in some great ways. I would love it if you would check out my youth ministry blog at joshhevans.wordpress.com. I have been a student pastor for several years in NC, and getting into this whole blogging thing!

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