The teenage years are such a crucial period in a person’s life. It’s so important that as the church, we are playing a part in influencing the lives of teenagers, especially in a society where identity, relationships and purpose are some of the prevalent issues young people are facing. This is where youth ministry comes in.
Starting to actively reach the youth in your community is such an important endeavor for any local church to undertake – here are a few tips that will help you get started:
1. Find people to build with
Who are you building the youth ministry with? Who’s on your team? Who are the people you are serving alongside?
When starting something up from scratch, it’s so easy to focus on what you need to do, but at this stage it’s important to focus on who you’re building with. If you neglect bringing people with you, you’ll be overwhelmed too quickly because you don’t have anyone to help carry the load and everything ends up falling on you.
Find high caliber people to build the ministry with you. As pastors and leaders, invest into these people and be committed to discipling them. By modeling what leadership looks like, they’ll also be committed to the discipleship of others.
2. Go to the youth
As the church, we need to stop waiting for the youth to come to us; we need to go straight to the youth. Some of the best places to find the youth are high schools and universities – these are the places where you are guaranteed to find them. Build relationships with the principals and teachers of schools because as youth pastors and youth leaders, this is where we need to be and where we need to position ourselves.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t get a crowd of high school students come to your youth ministry straight away – but it is about loving on the one student that does choose to come, and from there, everything will move forward. If a teenager has a good time, if they feel loved and accepted, they’ll keep showing up and they’ll naturally bring their friends.
3. Create an identity
Don’t underestimate the power of creating an identity in your youth ministry. There’s something powerful about having an identity because it allows youth to take ownership of it. It becomes who are they are and is something they can identify themselves with. Having the youth take ownership of it is key because if it’s truly home to them, they’ll naturally and organically bring their friends to it.
Are the youth proud of your (their!) youth ministry?
Don’t be afraid to ask God: “What is it that you want this youth ministry to be?” and “How do you want to ‘mark’ this youth ministry?”
Ultimately, youth ministry is about connecting with youth people. It’s not about having DJs and skate parks in your church garage, but it is about helping young people find solid friendships and come to find Jesus. Let’s keep this as a priority as we start up a youth ministry.
This thought was originally shared at our Online Open Week in February 2016 in a conversation around Youth Services with our Hillsong Youth Team. Online Open Week is your opportunity to receive impartation and training direct from the Hillsong Team through live online hangouts.
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