Tag Archives: Youth Ministry Philosophy

How to Get Parents on Your Team – Part 1

All this discussion about football & the National Anthem, I thought I’d find some comparisons to football and youth ministry.  It’s very common for a rookie in football to make…well, rookie mistakes.  A poorly thrown interception, a missed assignment, or a blown play.  The classic rookie mistake for a youth pastor is to neglect the parents.  Some young or inexperienced youth pastors might even go as far as to see parents as a hindrance or an enemy to their progress in ministry.  Not so!

My ministry philosophy is based on Deuteronomy 6:5-7.  The youth pastor needs to be the assistant coach to the head coach, the parents.  “The responsibility for raising spiritual champions, according to the Bible, belongs to the parents…the responsibility is squarely laid at the feet of the family.  This is not a job for specialists.  It is a job for parents.”  (George Barna, Revolutionary Parenting).

The goal of the youth pastor and his ministry team is to be an assistant coach to the head coaches, the parents.  It is the parents’ responsibility to raise the children, and the youth ministry should assist with that goal in various ways.  This assistance occurs through the teaching of God’s Word, spiritual counsel and encouragement, and prayer.

Alongside those essential spiritual actions, there are practical aspects that need to be brought to the table.  A good assistance coach will help in-game planning, go to the coach when they see a player struggling or injured, and help inform the coach where they lack the knowledge.  Youth ministry is no different.  The youth ministry team should help the parents game plan.  In other words, they should help them develop the spiritual goals for their child and allow the programs and teachings to aid in reaching those goals.  Also, it is imperative for the youth ministry to go to the parents when a student is struggling spiritually.  There will be times when behavior is inappropriate, words throw up red flags, or things are said in small groups where the parents need to be made aware.  Then, the youth pastor can aid in the recovery process.  Lastly, there needs to be parent meetings that include youth culture updates, upcoming event information, discussion/advice from other parents and other essential communication that will act as support in the parenting process.  After all, it is the responsibility of the coach for the team’s behavior, but the assistant coach has a vested interest in the outcome of the game.

You want to get parents on your team?  Make sure you are on their team first.

Stay tuned for next week – a practical way to get parents on your team that will only take about 30 minutes of your time.

 

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My Youth or Student Ministry Philosophy

This philosophy of ministry has come with learning some things the hard way, from valuable mentoring from veterans in the ministry, and reading many youth ministry books...but the most important factors in determining my philosophy of ministry…God’s leading (you will notice each point is supported with Scripture) and what developed true spiritual life change in teenagers.  After reading, would love to hear your reactions, and also what you have in your philosophy…always willing to learn from others.  Here is my philosophy of ministry:

philosophyYouth Ministry Philosophy

Spiritual Growth – REAL Faith

Colossians 1:23 – If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

There is an epidemic of students graduating from High School and from the church. What will keep the students in the faith?  What will keep them interested, involved, and in the church?  The cure is the development of a faith that is grounded, settled, and not easily moved.  The goal of youth ministry should be to assist in the development of the student’s faith (notice it is the student’s faith, not their parents’ or pastor’s faith) to where the entrance into adult life, the arguments of secular professors, and the tragedies of life will have no affect on the student’s faith in their great God.

Evangelism

Romans 10:13-14 – For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Every believer and follower of Jesus Christ has been called to reach the lost.  Youth ministry has a responsibility to enable, encourage, and exercise evangelism.  The largest mission field in the United States right now is on the high school campus.  There needs to be training for these students as they enter the battle.  These students need to be taught how evangelism works.  Evangelism is not something that comes easy to many students.  They need to be encouraged to share their faith with others and bring their friends to church.  Finally, the students need to have opportunities to exercise evangelism.  Whether this is through specific outreach events or mission trips, the students need to put their faith into action.

Assistant Coach

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

“The responsibility for raising spiritual champions, according to the Bible, belongs to the parents…the responsibility is squarely laid at the feet of the family.  This is not a job for specialists.  It is a job for parents.”  (George Barna, Revolutionary Parenting).

The goal of the youth pastor and his ministry team is to be an assistant coach to the head coaches, the parents.  It is the parents’ responsibility to raise the children, and the youth ministry should assist with that goal in various ways.  This assistance occurs through the teaching of God’s Word, spiritual counsel and encouragement, and prayer.

Alongside those essential spiritual actions, there are practical aspects that need to be brought to the table.  A good assistance coach will help in game planning, go to the coach when they see a player struggling or injured, and help inform the coach where they lack the knowledge.  Youth ministry is no different.  The youth ministry team should help the parents game plan.  In other words, they should help them develop the spiritual goals for their child and allow the programs and teachings to aid in reaching those goals.  Also, it is imperative for the youth ministry to go to the parents when a student is struggling spiritually.  There will be times when behavior is inappropriate, words throw up red flags, or things are said in small groups where the parents need to be made aware.  Then, the youth pastor can aid in the recovery process.  Lastly, there needs to be parent meetings that include youth culture updates, upcoming event information, discussion/advice from other parents and other essential communication that will act as support in the parenting process.  After all, it is the responsibility of the coach for the team’s behavior, but the assistant coach has a vested interest in the outcome of the game.

Discipleship/Mentorship/Relationship

Matthew 28:19-20 – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

The Bible does not say to have many programs and hope disciples will result from each event.  While there are programs that are effective in that respect and reaching young people, youth ministry can easily miss the target.  One significant determining factor of young people leaving the church is relationships.  Recent research has supported this claim (Group Magazine, March/April 2010 & Essential Church, 37, 64-65).  Teens, sadly, will not remember each Bible study and Sunday School topic, but they will remember the times where a leader or pastor discipled them, mentored them, and built a relationship that helped them grow spiritually.  Discipleship, mentorship, and relationship are at the heart of youth ministry.  These methods are a replica of the ministry model that Jesus Christ established with his disciples.  If youth ministry focuses on the next big event and neglects the discipleship and mentoring that could be happening, it is simply spinning its wheels.  The youth ministry team must establish a plan of discipleship where the leaders are forming and building relationships where discipleship and mentorship can happen.

Equip/Service Training

Ephesians 4:12 – to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (ESV)

If there is no equipping the saints for ministry, the ministry can go only as far as the pastor.  Equipping should happen in multiple aspects of youth ministry.  In other words, the equipping should not stop at just the students, but should extend into church members, parents, and youth ministry staff/volunteers.  The students need to be trained and given opportunities to serve.  It should be a priority of the youth ministry team to help the student discover their spiritual gifts and talents that can be used to build up the church body and give God glory.  These students need to be connected in ministry within the church body, and not just participate in ministry exclusive to the youth ministry.

Similarly, the youth pastor should continually find ways where others can be trained in ministry, used in ministry, and can grow in their love to serve in ministry.  The youth pastor needs to see potential in the people around him and provide opportunities for service.  Also, the process should intertwine with the mentoring/discipleship process where those in ministries are consistently training and encouraging the next generation.

Worship Opportunity

Psalm 100:1-5 – Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

The youth ministry needs to be an environment where the Creator of the universe, the Almighty God, the Savior of all mankind can be worshiped.  Therefore, the music, teaching, conversations, social interaction, small group time, programs, and leadership team all need to advance and promote worship and not detract from it.  The youth pastor is responsible to maintain a spiritually healthy environment where reverence, respect, glory, and praise is given to the Father.

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Top 10 Youth or Student Ministry Books

Here are a few that I would recommend (put in order of my favorites):

  1. Family Based Youth Ministryby Mark DeVries (My youth pastor growing up had me read this.  It redefined for me the role of the youth pastor, and my philosophy was forever changed.)
  2. The Greenhouse Projectby Mel Walker & Mike Calhoun (A collection of writings from some of my favorite people in youth ministry)
  3. Youth Ministry Management Tools (This book is awesome as a resource.  Not for simple reading, but will help you with administration – planning events, budget, team-building, etc.)
  4. Purpose Driven Youth Ministryby Doug Fields (Classic that reshaped youth ministry to what it is today, in a good way)
  5. Shaping the Spiritual Life of Studentsby Richard Dunn (One of the first youth ministry books I read, and loved the insight of walking along students in their lives)
  6. Pushing the Limitsby Mel Walker
  7. Sustainable Youth Ministryby Mark DeVries (One of my prayers is longevity in ministry, this book will help)
  8. ReThinkby Steve Wright
  9. Controlled Chaosby Kurt Johnston (Jr. High ministry, could you tell by the title?)
  10. 4 Hour Youth Ministryby Timothy Eldred (Want to get more efficient, or your teens more involved, here ya go)

Honorary Mention:  You Lost Me by David Kinnaman; Already Gone by Ken Ham

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Top 10 Requirements for a Youth Pastor Search

Hard to come up with just 10 things to include in finding a youth or student pastor candidate.  But here’s 10 that come to mind.

  1. Biblical standards is a good place to start – must follow without question the ground rules in I Timothy 3 & Titus 1. (I realize this covers a lot, but I can’t say it better than Scripture does!)
    1. Along these lines – same commitments to Biblical standards & doctrines
  2. Follows the philosophy of the church – Typically youth pastors fall into a few camps:  Program Driven, Family/Discipleship Driven
    1. There needs to be and understanding of the philosophy of the candidate.  This will help with finding a right match.
  3. For me, a high value in relational and Biblical discipleship is paramount in youth ministry.Job
    1. This means – willingness and desire/passion to disciple young people and also families/parents.
  4. Understanding of family ministry – involvement, passion for equipping, and desire to consistently communicate with parents.  Someone that sees parents as someone on their team, not one they try to just keep happy.
  5. Inter-generational – willingness to involve teens in service in the church, encourage engagement in adult relationships, and provide opportunities for teens to serve and worship alongside adults and kids.  Basically provided a bridge between generations.
  6. Relationship-oriented – this generation is less about knowledge, and more about relationship.  “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” (Maxwell)
    1. Also able to work well with others on staff & develop/maintain a positive relationship with youth leaders/children workers.
  7. Organized – Can’t tell you how important this is.  Leadership loves it.  Parents love it.  And teens benefit from it.
  8.  Effective communicator – not only in formal settings like teaching/training/meetings.  But also have the ability to communicate clearly in informal settings like one-on-one with teens, weekly staff meetings, and secular arenas (like YMCA or bowling alley for example in planning events)
  9. Driven – there needs to be drive – both spiritually and practically.  Always looking for ways to improve the spiritual & physical environment of the youth ministry.
  10. CALLED to ministry – love for teens is a requirement, but a call to ministry is a step above that.
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