Build a community that’s full of grace and invite teens to join it. Create a youth ministry community that welcomes God to be at work there confronting teens’ sin, feeding their faith, transforming their minds, and growing their love. Help teens build trusting and committed relationships with each other so they can develop bonds of real intimacy. Encourage them to view every part of their lives – from their homework to the movies they watch – through a biblical perspective when they talk together. Urge them to find healing when they need it by confessing their sins to God and each other and forgiving each other, with God’s help. Form small groups for discipleship that teens can participate in every week. Help your teens build relationships with older people in your church and learn from their life experiences.

Develop a strong youth ministry team. Work together with other youth leaders in your church to encourage each other and hold each other accountable to live faithfully and pursue the ministry’s goals. Always keep in mind that you’re part of a ministry team relying on God’s grace together; never try to do ministry alone.

Work well with the parents of the teens in your youth ministry. Get to know the parents well and encourage them to grow spiritually in their own lives so they can inspire their children to grow spiritually. Invite parents to participate in some events alongside their children, such as serving together at a local homeless shelter. Give parents opportunities to rotate through youth ministry positions (such as small group leaders or activity chaperones).

Regularly evaluate your youth ministry work. Every week, month, and year that goes by, reflect on your youth ministry and ask yourself: “Are we focused on the Gospel?”, “Are we practicing the means of grace?”, “Do we have a greater knowledge of and love for God than we did before?” and “Do we see spiritual fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) in the lives of our youth?”

Adapted from Giving Up Gimmicks: Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Culture, copyright 2012 by Brian H. Cosby. Published by P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ,  http://www.prpbooks.com/.

Brian H. Cosby is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. He serves on pastoral staff at Carriage Lane Presbyterian Church in Peachtree City, Ga., and teaches historical theology at Metro Atlanta Seminary. He is the author of several books, and holds degrees from Samford University (B.A.), Beeson Divinity School (M.Div.), and The North American Reformed Seminary (D.Min.).

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles, at: http://angels.about.com/. Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.com to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.

Publication date: May 14, 2012