While I was at Mars Hill Church, I got phone calls from youth leaders all over the US asking me for advice. I was more than happy to share with them what I knew, but to be honest, I think I left most of them disappointed. Truth be told, they we’re looking for a secret and there just isn’t one.
Youth ministry strategy depends on so many things. You have to take into account your region, the demographic of your church, your local culture, the age of your kids and so much more. It’s a combination of talent, spiritual gifting, hard work and the hand of God.
But there is one big thing we need to remember: youth ministry is people ministry.
This is absolutely foundational. If you don’t get this, you fail!
We all have our problems
During my time at Mars Hill, I realised kids had the exact same problems adults did (drugs, porn, cutting, bitterness, depression and all kinds of other things).
In addition, I found that kids ask the exact same questions as adults do.
They wanted to know why they had illnesses, how to get over heartache, why there was a hell and if God was going to take care of them.
I also realised that they are just as messed up as adults are.
They had incredible stress from school, they we’re under insane peer pressure all the time, they had secrets that bothered them and thoughts that disturbed them.
Because they’re people.
Do you know your kids?
The kids in your group aren’t just high schoolers, your stepping stone to a higher position or a group of teens you have to keep excited. They’re real, live, breathing people.
The kids in your youth group will one day be mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, workers, leaders, and who knows what else. So as overly simple as this sounds – treat them like it.
- Don’t give them a sugar coated version of church - they want the real deal.
- Don’t just give them entertainment (though I’m all about having a blast) - they want community.
- Don’t teach them a flashy, fun version of theology - they want rich, robust theology.
They are people!
If you have that in the forefront of your mind, you will probably stop searching for a secret.
Mitch Miller is now a youth speaker, visit www.mitchmiller.me to view his blog.