After attending a youth leader’s conference, a good friend shared that after 10 years of leading the youth ministry in his church, he felt like much of his time was spent entertaining students and feeding them pizza. He had been challenged to consider the key outcomes he should be seeking to develop in the lives of his students.
Have you considered the questions, “What practices should a student who is completely engaged in our youth ministry be engaged in? What should they learn? What skills and disciplines should they develop? What experiences should they have?” Every time I ask pastors, youth pastors and youth leaders these types of questions, they always come up with the same basic list. That is because we are all reading the same book, the Bible, that gives us clear guidance on how to answer these questions. So, let’s examine six key outcomes that every youth ministry should be focused on:
- Personal Faith in Christ
Every student needs to be restored to a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. In youth ministry we have the privilege to introduce students to Christ at a young age and to see the trajectory of their whole life change. The gospel must be first in your youth ministry (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).
- Personal Spiritual Growth
To be spiritually healthy, every student will need to develop the habit of investing time listening to God through daily Bible reading, meditation, memorization, and application. Also, every student will need to learn how to talk to God in prayer. Jesus was not only an example of this to His disciples but gave clear direction on how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13).
- Gospel Witness
Most students in your ministry are aware of the urgency of the gospel and their responsibility to share the gospel with their friends and family (2 Corinthians 5:20). The questions we must ask are, “have we equipped them to reach their friends and family? Are your students fluent in the gospel? Do they know the gospel well enough to share it? Have they been given opportunities through your ministry to share it?”
- Faithfulness to the Local Church
One of the best ways for your students to get solid Bible teaching and to develop deep friendships with other believers is by being connected to a local church. For sure they need to be at your weekly youth meetings and events but also the weekend worship services. These meetings are vital to their growth and development as a Christian, and we must place a high priority on them (Hebrews 10:24, 25).
No works are needed for salvation, but Christ-followers are to display His love through serving others (Ephesians 2:10). Serving is a great way for your students to discover and to use their unique spiritual gifts.
Jesus set the ultimate goal for our students in Matthew 28:18-20, “Go and make disciples.” This is a high goal but for sure one that can be accomplished since Jesus told us to do it. Imagine your students leading their friends to Christ, showing them how to spend time in God’s Word and prayer, teaching them to share the gospel, encouraging them to be at youth group and church, serving and using their spiritual gifts, and, finally, taking what they have learned and passing that on to another. This is what disciple-making is all about.
Imagine the difference if just 10% of your students were equipped in all these areas. Think about what this impact would be over the next 10 years. I believe we would see revival happen, don’t you?
John is the Director of Word of Life Youth Ministries. He and his wife Pam have served with Word of Life for over 33 years in several regions including Southern California and North East Pennsylvania. They currently live in upstate NY where John has been serving in his current role since November, 2014.