Two approaches to youth ministry

I saw this over on

The traditional style of youth ministry is to have a youth pastor and a few sponsors run a youth group. They meet separately, they have their own activities.

There is another approach that is gaining popularity that plays down the group mentality, as it were, for a more parent-driven ministry. This system keeps the youth integrated with the rest of the body on the whole, and only gathers the teens together in a group once a month or so. These group meetings are very different from traditional meetings. The parents are strongly urged to attend, they play the games and hear the teaching.

The goal is to keep the parents as involved with raising/discipling their children as possible. As it is the duty of the parents to train up their children, the youth leaders strive to do nothing more than come alongside the parents and encourage them.

The problem with the traditional style is that parents are largely removed from the picture, too much so. The problem with the group-driven ministry is that not all of our kids have parents, at least not parents who attend church. How would they feel attending a youth group where everyone else’s parents participated except theirs? Maybe the same way I felt back in high school when my wrestling teammate’s parents attended all our matches, but my parents couldn’t because of Bible study conflicts. (Thankfully, that changed immediately when I confronted them about it my junior year.) I also wonder about the balance between parents being over-involved and teenagers needing gradual independence. And I’m not sure how parents are discipling their children if they’re just listening to the same lesson the kids are. And what about the kids who need a place away from home just to vent about family problems?

I’m not against the parent-driven model at all. I strongly support the whole Deuteronomy 6 approach — I’m just not sure how it should best play out practically. It seems that both approaches have downsides. There may not be an easy solution to the whole parent-participatory youth ministry. What do you guys think?

Posted on June 25, 2007

New eBookGo
Focused Youth Ministry ebook

85% off!

Focused Youth Ministry

This practical "how to" ebook will walk you through a 30-step process to discovering God's vision for your unique ministry context. The process also shows you how to implement that vision and put metrics in place to evaluate what is moving the vision forward and what isn't.

Price: $12.95 Limited time: $1.99