My blog statistics indicate that many people find my site when searching for topics related to starting a church youth group. Unfortunately, I don’t actually have too much posted that addresses this issue specifically, until now. Here’s a very basic structure of how a church might go about starting a youth ministry. (Other youth workers please feel free to chime in with your input.)
1. Pray. Fervently seek the Lord to guide the entire process, provide the necessary ideas and thoughts to make it all happen for His glory.
2. Put together a small core team of students, parents and volunteers who believe in teenagers and have heart for reaching them for Christ. Gather together and pray for wisdom, guidance and direction for this new ministry.
3. Develop a vision and direction with this core team. Answer some of these questions together: Why are we starting this group? Who specifically do we intend to reach? Where do we want to be this time next year? In five years? What kind of atmosphere do we intend to create for the students relationally and spiritually?
4. Based on your answers, formulate a strategy for accomplishing these things. How are we going to get to where God’s called you to be? For example, if your group is led to specifically target unchurched students at Smith High School, how are you going to connect with them, addressing both their felt and actual needs? What environment will allow you to communicate most effectively with these people?
5. Communicate the strategy with the church leadership when it is clear, written down and understood by all those on the core team. Make any revisions as you both deem to be necessary.
6. Assign roles and responsibilities to each of the team members involved for fulfilling the strategy. Determine launch dates for each aspect of the ministry. It’s always better to do a few things well than lots of things mediocre, so give yourself the freedom to launch in only a one or two areas and build from there as the group solidifies.
7. Share your values and strategy with the church body as a whole sometime before the launch. There may be some people in the congregation who have contradictory opinions and values, but that’s fine. Just listen to what they have to say, respect their opinion and let them know that you value their input. There will be many more who are excited and will support you 110%.
8. Launch the ministry and have fun! Constantly drench yourselves in prayer. Recruit other volunteers as necessary and get them on board with your vision and strategy. Teach them to habitually pray for the youth ministry, too.
9. After six months or so, reevaluate your values, goals and strategy and make whatever tweaks are necessary. What’s been working well that should continue? What isn’t serving its purpose and needs to be cut? What are the success stories God’s had through your work? How is the ministry progressing in the direction you set and what are the next steps for taking it where it still needs to go?
10. Implement any necessary changes and proceed accordingly. Remember to pray, pray, and pray harder. The only way this ministry will genuinely succeed is if you’re saturated in prayer, always following the Lord’s direction and input for His ministry through you.
Posted on March 8, 2007