If you haven’t checked out part 1 yet make sure you do that now. In this second part I hope to continue to equip you with the basics to get your Youth Ministry cranking and seeing crowds of young people come to know Jesus and have a vibrant relationship with Him.
- Be confident and clear
This is more to do with leading a youth team, but is important even when running a youth night. In everything you do you need to be bold and clear. People do not respond to uncertainty, they will not put their trust in someone that they see as shaky. If you keep using terms like maybe, possibly, not sure, umm, they will begin to think that you don’t know what you are doing. Youth don’t want to give their lives to God when you, a reflection of Jesus, are unclear, shaky and unsure.
Your confidence and clarity don’t come from you knowing the outcome but from your planning and your faith in God, you have every reason to be confident and clear so stop apologising and present that confidence and clarity.
- You can’t build on decisions but you can build on disciples
The decision is just the start of discipleship. A Youth Group grows not on how good you are at preaching or reaching but how you disciple.
Don’t do what you do just to appeal to numbers and bulking up quick because when you strip it back not much will be left. Your Youth Ministry’s focus will always be God, so make sure that is clear in everything that you do. Do not hide it or be ashamed of it because God is the very reason you are doing it. Culture is very difficult to change so from the start develop a culture of discipleship. Jesus may not always be the most appealing, but Jesus is truly life changing and no one can deny that. You’re in this to change lives not count lives.
When new youth come in and make a decision for Jesus, follow them up in the next couple days. Answer their questions, get them a bible, hangout with them and take them through Youth Alpha.
With youth that are attending but have a shaky faith, talk to them about God, challenge them to read the bible and ask them about it, give them a place to serve in Youth. Discipleship is learning by following, I believe often the most powerful discipleship tool we have is getting them involved in serving and then through the team, culture and vision you have established they will capture the heart of God. Get them welcoming, or helping setup or pack up, you will be surprised how much value this will instil in them.
Don’t allow Youth Ministry to just be a one day thing. This doesn’t mean you have to commit hours everyday planning and connecting but you should do all of these things throughout the week. Catch up with people from your program during the week, show them that you care and are invested in them even outside of the program. Your heart is really revealed in what you do outside of program hours and people will notice that.
Relationships are so important throughout all stages of ministry and they need to be established and grown. What is more effective? Doing your Youth, Connect Group style where they can interact with you lots and easily ask questions; or doing preaching, band, etc. If at the start you only have a few people like I did in my Youth Ministry then it is most likely that for a season running it Connect style will be far more effective because you can really personally input into everyone. When your group reaches critical mass then incorporating nights with preaching and a band is fantastic but up until this point, if you have a small number then it can seem quite impersonal and cold.
- Know your wins
I think one of the hardest things to deal with when starting a Youth Ministry from scratch is the fact that your group hasn’t yet broken into revival and isn’t huge, booming and beyond all your craziest dreams.
It can be discouraging seeing the same few teenagers turns up every single week, it can become demotivating when the few young people you have pay no attention when you talk about God and just seem to chat amongst themselves.
One of the most important things that I have learnt is to know my wins. What to me and what for my Youth Ministry is a win? Because revival isn’t the only win, 100 young people isn’t the only win.
My wins are:
- Are youth being saved and discipled?
- Are youth engaging, opening up and discussing positively in Connect Groups?
- Are youth engaging and respecting times of praise and worship?
- Is there a response from the youth to what is being preached/discussed? Are they living it out?
- Do youth feel comfortable, excited and encouraged to invite/bring friends to youth?
- Do the youth feel like family during hangtime?
- Is the leadership growing, taking hold of the vision and leading with confidence, clarity and passion?
Look at your vision for your Youth Ministry and write out your wins, wins that on a weekly basis you can see how you are achieving the calling of God for this ministry. Communicate these with the team and this will enable you to stay away from the trap of comparison and numbers.
Starting any Youth Ministry from the ground up isn’t simple and there is a lot involved but as you respond to the calling of God and prepare and resource yourself for it you will be able to step into the great things you are believing to see.