Meeting the Needs of the Youth
Youth in my books would be defined as Grade 8 – Grade 12. What makes this a challenging ministry, is the ever changing make-up of the youth. It seems that every 6 months or so you have an entirely “new youth group. It is not “new’ in the normal sense as most of them have been In the youth ministry for a while, It Is that they have all changed and it seems like a “new” group. They speak of the generational theory, stating that each 20 years or so we have a different generation.
I however see a new generation every 2 – 3 years. The culture we live In Is changing at a pace never before experienced. Simply looking at the advancement of technology over the last decade demonstrates for us the enormity of our current growth spurt. Although I fall in the same generation theory category as many of my youth, they are vastly different to me. A change has definitely taken place. I am not sure when It was that I moved out of the “cool” to “boring” category but It seems that it has happened. As all this change takes place one can only expect that the needs will also shift.
What I wanted as a youth is most definitely not what the youth wants today. And it is herein that the difficulty lies, assessing the needs of the day. Meeting this Need Now that the greatest need has been identified, how are we to meet this need. Let me suggest the following methodology: 1. Clear concise exposition of the Word. There Is no other way to bring a person to the point of repentance. Paul while ministering to an Idol riddled generation, did not soften the truth. No In Acts 17 we see that Paul does not shrink in declaring the whole counsel of God. Paul even goes s far as telling the hostile audience that they need to repent.
Too often today those ministering to youth do not want to teach on so called hard truths found In scripture. We are being told by the “experts” that teaching too much doctrine is not good. At a recent youth workshop we were told that teaching systematically through a book of the Bible “is Just wrong”. We were told that the youth wants fun filled stories and entertaining challenges and nothing that actually breaks down their self esteem. In saying this however, I do acknowledge that some systematic teaching can be done incorrectly, so as to bore or put anyone off.
The clear concise exposition that is needed is one that requires much preparation. The preacher needs to know his audience and has to be diligent to bring the message to bear on that audience. Just as it is no use teaching speed reading to 4 year olds, it is no use teaching Supernaturalism to your youth group. It is my opinion that it takes much more work to teach the scriptures to youth and children than adults. More illustrations are needed, more explanation is needed and bridging the gap requires more work. But at he end of the day Is that not what preaching Is all about? 2.
Diligent discipleship 1 OFF to convert the nations. The youth worker needs to work hard at discipline his youth. This takes the form of personal discipleship and the arranging of other discipleship relationships. It is not a dereliction of duties to ask some of the adults in the church to help with discipleship. One youth pastor cannot himself disciple the entire group. This is the primary reason I prefer not to have the main youth meeting on Sunday nights when the “adult” church meets next door. No, the young people need to get to now the church members and see how they live their Christian lives.
This is not a new concept, but simply the Biblical example of having the older men and women training the younger members of the church. (Titus 2:1-8) Discipleship is hard work and time consuming, but also the most rewarding part of my ministry. What a Joy it is to see a young man growing in his walk with the Lord and seeing the same young man’s discernment consistently growing. Loving admonition It is often difficult to admonish one of the people we love and enjoy. We perceive that our admonishment will create barriers in our relationship.
However “faithful are the wounds of a friend”. During my ministry I have seen that even though the initial reaction is not always what we would desire, the long term affects are rewarding. The youth sees that you are willing to admonish so that they can grow in Christ. You are not simply standing by and condoning (sometimes nonverbally) their obvious wrong behavior. This should always be done in love though. Admonishing must be done carefully and lovingly always addressing a pattern of sin and not one isolated incident. As a parent I feel the tension of loving and disciplining daily.
None of us parents or youth workers delights in admonishing, but we are commanded by God to admonish. While admonishing I always keep the following two Proverbs in mind Proverbs 13:24 “He who spares the rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly’ and Proverbs 8:9 “Do not rebuke a scoffer, lest he hates you; Rebuke a wise man and he will love you. ” 4. Purposeful ministry The adage is true, “if you aim at nothing you will be sure to hit it every time. ” In order for the youth ministry to be successful it needs to have a defined purpose.
A narrow repose, “having a large youth group” is not specific enough. Each youth ministry is going to have a different local purpose; I say local as the ultimate purpose should be to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord”. Some local purposes will be to establish an initial vibrant youth ministry; others will be to effectively reach the local High School, or even to establish spiritual growth in a core group. Whatever your purpose, it needs to be defined and a plan of action developed. It is important to know how you plan to achieve your purpose.
What steps are you going to take so as to assure (realizing it is God who builds His church) that your ministry meets the intended purpose? Conclusion While I agree that doing the same today as we did 10 years ago is not going to cut it, I argue that at the heart the ministry is the same. The youth of today has the same fundamental need as the youth 30 years ago – regeneration. If you are serious about meeting the needs of the youth this is where you must begin. Take the above begin to minister to the youth of today. Always keeping 1 Corinthians 10: 31 as your guide.