“What exactly is youth ministry? Is it really important? Wait a minute…is it even Biblical?” These are questions that commonly arise from Christians who put some critical thinking into their youth ministries. Wednesday night I had the chance to meet with most of the parents and kids of the congregation (thank you to those who could stay for the meeting!) and to relay a few of my thoughts on why I believe youth ministry is important. I would like to use this opportunity to further explain what exactly Biblical youth ministry involves and what it should be striving to accomplish.
What exactly is youth ministry? The premise of youth ministry is simple to state, but difficult to achieve. Basically, it can be defined as a ministry specifically designed for the younger members of a congregation that focuses on the spiritual growth of its members. I know I have said it before, but I’ll say it again: “Youth ministry is not glorified baby-sitting.” Youth ministry is about leading young people to Christ and helping them experience REAL growth in their Christian lives every day. Don’t get me wrong, we are going to have a lot of fun with our youth ministry, but we CANNOT forget that the one and only center of Biblical youth ministry is Jesus Christ, not games and events.
Is it really important? I think that it is wise to let the stats speak for themselves on this one. Recent studies show that 78-80% of young people in the U.S. who leave for college as Christians lose their faith by their second year of college. 80 percent! What is the problem? The students without a strong Christian foundation to stand upon can hardly be expected to somehow stand up for their watered-down beliefs in the crazy world of college. What can we do about it? We can give them the Biblical foundation that they need. The youth group is an excellent Christian support system in which students can build this foundation free from the worries of everyday, drama-filled teen life. Christian support is of paramount importance to all Christians, not just kids (Eccl. 4:9-12).
Is it Biblical? In a word, yes. Again, I think it best to let the evidence (in this case the Bible) speak for itself. Youth ministry (teaching the Gospel to children and mentoring them in their Christian walk) is advocated in the Bible in several places. Take a look at Duet. 6:6-7; Psalm 78:1-8; and Ephesians 6:4. These verses also reveal that successful youth ministry starts with the parents. Every parent is a youth minister in some capacity.
Youth ministry is a Biblical ministry that expands the kingdom of God exponentially. With the entire congregation’s help, we can bring up our children here at Ashville Road “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”