Great Youth Ministry Article

This is taken from Seth Barnes’ Blog, Radical Living in a comfortable world.

thanks to joe at despising none

In the last 30 years, the Church in America has produced a generation of professional youth pastors. They care about youth and want to impact them for Jesus, but they’ve also got to run a program:

  • They’ve got to schedule regular youth group meetings.
  • They need to meet with parents.
  • They have to go to staff meetings.
  • They have to attend conferences.
  • They are expected to fill their calendars with “youth activities.”

Ultimately, many of them stay at one church less than two years. So, it is a rare youth pastor who is able to spend the time needed discipling individual students.

If you’re an average youth worker you got into the field because you wanted to disciple young people. But something happened along the way. Your church gave you a flawed model of discipleship, one that involves little long-term ministry and results in meager fruit.

Expectations, calendars, and a risk-averse evangelical culture all make your life complicated.

Our culture wants you to work as guns-for-hire babysitting a generation sitting back with arms folded and a smirk that says, “Go ahead and try to hold my attention. I’ve got satellite TV, an X-box, wireless internet, a cell phone, and a schedule that won’t quit. See where you fit in that list.”

Jesus said, “Let the dead bury the dead.” His terms were uncompromising; ours should be too.

If you’re a youth worker reading this, I don’t want to leave you in the lurch. Let me recommend a few practical steps you can take:

First, if your heart is telling you, “disciple young people” and your program won’t let you do it, then decide to get out of your program and into something that allows you to disciple young people. Don’t let salary be a major consideration.

Second, consider going to your senior pastor and asking for permission to apply Jesus’ model of discipleship. Here’s one way – do what a nearby Atlanta church does, begin by taking those who really want to be discipled on a two-month summer mission trip. That’s right, I said two months! How else are you going to change their habits? Get adult volunteers to take everyone else to water parks.

Third, consider finding a team who will encourage you to disciple young people in the same way Jesus did. If you’re consistently discouraged where you are, you may need to consider the possibility that God wants you to quit your current job, but if He does, at least you can look for a place that lets you disciple the way that Jesus did.

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