Issues in Youth Ministry: Heidi Abbott

Issues in Youth Ministry: Heidi AbbottWhat do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is struggling with today?

Okay – I am a female. I can share my input from the sphere God has given me here in Olathe, KS. I think there are some fundamental issues that no matter where you do youth ministry you face. I do think that there will be issues that are relevant to where you minister to youth: urban, rural, suburbia, etc. Our church sits in in one of the wealthiest counties in America; that not to say that we draw the wealthiest families in the county – probably the opposite of that, but nevertheless, our youth live in this culture of affluence. Rumor was recently that the high school where my kids go was picked by MTV to do a kinda Lauguna Beachy high school show. At any rate, I say all that to set up my comments because the issues I face may not affect everyone.

These are not listed in order of importance.
1. Obviously, an issue is materialism of the American teenager. The abundance of “stuff” I believe has anesthetized many to a hunger for the only One who will satisfy. Because many students have not faced hardships and struggles, they feel no need for anything. This particularly affects our reaching the lost students around us. Many are so very content (at least they think they are) and finding God’s strategy to reach the rich teen is where I am at personally. The big, shiny and pimped out youth ministry centers with the indoor basketball, lines of XBOX 360s, IPODs, laptops, etc. may draw them, but I want to see lives changed by the power of God’s word and Spirit. I want the Spirit of God to keep them in that youth ministry and what happens to them affects those around them.

2. The media’s influence.

3. Opportunity for Jesus-style discipleship in the fast-paced world we live in.

4. Because of the fast-paced world we live in, finding volunteers passionate about Jesus and willing to invest their lives with teens.

5. Helping to keep our graduates planted in the house of God after they’ve left the youth ministry. Generation Church in Kirkland, WA has a very interesting ministry model that has my attention right now. Because of the statistics of the church losing students once they leave for college, it is intriguing and worth prayerful thought.

6. Apathy of the “cradle-Christian” student. I want the student raised in church to fall in love with Jesus, to awaken to Him. My youth group is probably 80% these students. God revealed to me that they are like Samuels, dedicated to the Lord at a young age, spending their life in the “temple,” but then God begins to call their name and they aren’t sure if they hear Him or someone else. 1 Sam. 3:7 says, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.” It’s like our churched students, they know God, but He wants them to KNOW (intimately) Him and He’s calling them from sleep. From their parent’s faith, to their own. I’m seeing it happen, but not at the level I long for.

I’m sure their are other issues, probably bigger ones, but I just wrote what came to my mind that I deal with. The answer to these is the same: Jesus – the Word of God made flesh. I am convinced that we serve a mountain moving God, a barrier breaking God and that I have held back too long from stepping into the authority God has given me in Christ Jesus. God is no respecter of persons. This generation needs Jesus. They need deliverance from bondage and the healing of their souls, hearts and minds. We all have The answer. I am MORE than a conqueror and so are you!

Be blessed and be bold in the mighty name of Jesus of Nazareth!
Pastor Heidi Abbott

Heidi Abbott is in her 5th year of pastoring the youth ministry of Church of the Harvest in Olathe Kansas; a growing church passionate for souls.

[Read previous authors and posts in this series, “Issues in youth ministry.”]

Posted on December 18, 2006

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