Issues in Youth Ministry: Summary, highlights and discussion

Here’s a summary list of every issue in youth ministry that’s been mentioned by one of the series contributors. Whew! There certainly are a lot of issues that need to be addressed.

Discuss: Which of these issues apply specifically to your youth ministry? What changes can you make to address them in 2007?

What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is struggling with today?

  • Students are under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure.
  • It is vital that we remind them constantly that Jesus needs to have first priority in their lives and that He holds their future in His hands. Students are so busy and God and church is not always the #1 priority.
  • We need students to be global Christians.
  • The idea of godly sexuality for all people needs to be put back on the agenda.
  • Mental health.
  • The whole question of “church” is becoming more and more of a struggle for youth ministry.
  • Professional youth pastors and senior pastors looking for job security.
  • This generation is facing identity issues, sexuality issues, authority issues, and vocation/purpose issues, but in a much more intense, aggressive, combative, pluralistic context.
  • Discipleship and teaching students to grow on their own.
  • Retention after graduation.
  • Engaging parents.
  • Cultural relevance. The Church is often reluctant to change sufficiently to genuinely include the young people.
  • Defining Success.
  • Recruiting and training adult volunteers to be effective.
  • Presenting God as the right and better choice over pop culture.
  • A lack of understanding of youth culture and no desire to learn it.
  • We’re spending so much time trying to keep the ones we have that we are not reaching the lost.
  • The church leadership believes there are only a couple of kids caught up in major issues and the rest of the kids are great, god fearing and perfect.
  • Employed Christian youth workers are only deployed where there are churches with significant financial resources, meaning deployment is based on money not need.
  • The “dumbing down” of programs because of the myth that junior high students cannot go “deep.”
  • Connections between people and real community.
  • We should be focusing more on is inner-city and “fringe” type of neighborhoods and young people.
  • The issue of personal holiness, from youth ministers to parents to students. Our calling should be to BE children of God and pant after Him so that teens can see HIS power in our lives.
  • Apathy of the “cradle-Christian” student.
  • Not enough long term funding or funding in general.
  • The church allows the youth to be isolated, and sometimes they want the youth isolated, which is anything but unifying for the church.
  • Viewing youth ministry as a stepping-stone to becoming a Sr. Pastor, as if it’s important to practice ministry on “little people” before being qualified to work with “real people.”

What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is responding to effectively?

  • Loving teens and connecting with them in their world.
  • The call to missions.
  • Youth ministry is attempting to address the same issues that the adult church may be after, but the amazing thing is that there is more of a willingness to experiment.
  • Provides a safe place for hurting students. We are responding to the deep-seated hurts of teenagers in more effective ways than ever.
  • Giving students time and space to be in community with each other.
  • A desire to do ministry outside of the church and where kids are.
  • Youth ministry allows young people to encounter adults (and young people) who seek to live a 24/7 faith and model a life that’s Christ centered and counter cultural.

In what ways does youth ministry need to change?

  • We need to make sure we’re taking our young people deeper into their faith. But not just in Bible studies, but in their experience of mission, church, worship and so on.
  • Students need to be IN ministry and not just the recipient of it. If students don’t lead they’ll leave. We need to believe in students and their ability to minister effectively to their peers.
  • Relational-driven is more work and less to show…at first.
  • Do your deal, follow Jesus, create this environment in the student ministry IF YOU CAN. If you can’t – shut up and leave and find a place where you can if it’s that important to you.
  • Less reliance on programs.
  • Less “next big thing” thinking.
  • Less trendy, fad, youth workers.
  • Longevity. Finding a way to keep youth pastors and leader in their positions for the long haul.
  • Youth ministers need to adopt more of a “Family Ministry” rather than a “Youth Ministry.” Parents need to be central to the process of our teenagers’ spiritual formation and not disengaged bystanders.
  • Emotional health.
  • We need to have a plan for when the kids arrive in 6th grade they graduate high school knowing the fundamentals of scripture while at the same time encountering God rather than just being taught facts about Him.
  • Plug students into the greater body of Christ.
  • Church leaders need to understand what youth pastors are facing and stand with them in a major way.
  • Giving opportunity to live faith not just hear about it.
  • There is a pretty big void when it comes to Junior High Ministry Curriculum.
  • Starting where young people are instead of where we want them to be.
  • Student ministry needs to change first in the heart of Lead and Senior pastors across America.

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

Posted on January 4, 2007

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