How to Keep Your Youth Ministry Focused on Jesus
- Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Mentor kids. Learn how to listen carefully and to the kids’ thoughts and feelings. Give them your full attention and don’t judge them for what they share. Offer wise and encouraging feedback. Notice what God is doing in each of their lives, name it, and help them understand why it’s important. Lead kids to discover who Jesus says they are, so they can begin to see themselves as He sees them. Urge kids to spend some time in quiet prayer asking, “Who does Jesus say that I am?” and writing down the insights that result. Give kids who’d like to share their experiences opportunities to do so. Encourage your kids to discover, develop, and use their natural talents and spiritual gifts. Let them know that you’re thinking of them and praying for them every day.
Help kids evangelize. Understand that effective evangelism is a marathon rather than a sprint, so be patient. Encourage kids to share their faith with their peers through one-on-one relationships. Urge them to pray frequently, tell others about Jesus often, and invite people they know to church regularly. Help them make sharing their faith a habit they incorporate into their daily lives.
Lead small groups wisely. Create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere for the kids feel like family members. Keep discussions on track with the right momentum, clarity, and direction. Help kids reflect on their experiences in youth ministry, interpret a biblical truth that’s connected to it, and then apply that truth.
Urge kids to be bold in their outreach. Motivate kids to serve others as Jesus served so they can bless others and discover more about Jesus and themselves in the process. Stretch them out of their comfort zones by encouraging them to do something that seems scary, like creating a new worship service for the church, doing a work project in a place that makes them uncomfortable, or reaching out to people whose problems are beyond their ability to solve. Introduce managed crisis into kids’ lives to motivate them to trust Jesus in new ways.
Teach kids to engage the culture. Help kids engage the culture around them rather than adopting it or denying it. Get to know what types of movies and television shows they’re watching, what type of music they’re listening to, what types of Web sites they’re visiting, and what types of video games they’re playing. Consider using this material (if it’s not too profane) as a launching pad to explore truth as revealed by Jesus. Force kids to solve problems that require critical thinking. Teach kids to think critically about their cultural influences by asking these questions about the content to which they’re exposed: “What’s the overall message, in one sentence?”, “What ‘truths’ is it teaching?”, “What promises is it making?”, “Who’s sending the message, and why?”, and “Are these messages, truths, or promises that Jesus honors? Back up your answer.”
Counsel kids with love. Offer tangible love to the kids in your youth ministry by entering into the crises and feelings they experience to remind them of who God is and who they truly are as people. Encourage kids to offer the ugliness of their lives to God and invite Him to transform it into something beautiful. Help kids understand how God is using their struggles to accomplish good purposes in their lives. Ask God to give you the courage you need to visit the dark places in kids’ souls and not be dissuaded by the doubt or negative emotions (like fear and anger) they may express. Give kids the persistent, focused attention they need. Join God to help bring life where there’s currently death in their souls.
Treat volunteers well. Make the time to train your volunteers thoroughly and build caring and committed relationships with them. Let them know regularly how much you appreciate their contributions. Support them with the resources they need to do their jobs well. Take their feedback seriously, consider it carefully, and follow up with any ministry changes that should be made.
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