Recently I was asked a question on a youth pastor job application, “What particular area of ministry seems to be most effective in bringing about response and growth in your ministry?
My response was:
Building relationships with students and teamwork among the volunteers seem to be most effective in bringing about response and growth in the youth ministry I am currently involved with. When students know that people care about them and spend time getting to know them they have been more open to hearing more about God and spiritual topics because they know we care about them and have their best interest at heart. The teamwork among volunteers is helpful because we make sure that every student has somebody covering them in prayer and how to divide up the responsibilities for lessons, worship, games, and extra activities outside of the normal youth group or church setting.
I would argue that the success of youth ministry lies in building authentic relationships with students and harmony among volunteers and student leaders because students want to be known and feel safe where they decide to hang out and seeing unity among the leadership is a sign of people caring and enjoying one another’s company.
The reason that I bring these two things up is because I think that in my experience of youth ministry as a student and a volunteer lots of time is spent crafting the message, worship practice, and deciding which games to play beforehand. Not to say that this is bad, but I don’t think that I actually remember very many sermons preached to me in high school but what I do remember is my youth pastor taking me out to coffee and investing in my life and discipling me; encouraging me to live for Christ. I remember specific people praying for me and having compassion for me. I could be vulnerable and honest there.
Yesterday I was hiking on a trail in the Columbia River Gorge and praying and studying the Bible. Specifically I was studying Philippians. A couple things stood out to me in the first chapter. Those things were that Christians must be full of love and knowledge in order to live righteously and that as citizens of heaven we are to live in unity, boldness, perseverance, and suffering for Christ because this is a manner worthy of the Gospel.
My point is, is that in light of our heavenly citizenship and earthly ministry towards believers and non-believers alike shouldn’t the fruit of our lives be righteousness before God, surrender towards Him, and relationships that reflect the unity and love that Christ has given us to share? Let us consider these values of relationships and unity in ministry as our top priorities. Relationship with both God and people through the unity of the Bible and the broader body of Christ, not just the people you share the pew with but the charismatic, Lutheran, or non-denominational church down the street.
Pray for opportunities to engage in relationships and uniting the youth in your area.