Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

Solving For X in Youth Ministry

5 · 07 · 12


I have been going back to school for the past two years to get my 2 year degree and eventually my four year degree. Part of this journey is taking Algebra. I hate algebra. I am a right brain kind of guy so numbers scare me. I tried to make the argument, to myself, that the only number I need to count up to was 15. That is how many fit on the van. If I count the same number going on and the same summer coming off I’m good. Needless to say, I lost the argument. You learn a a few things when it’s it’s your third time taking a math class. One of them is understanding that their is an emphasis on process and order to solving for X (It should go without saying that Jesus is the x factor and must be part of any biblical youth ministry, but there, I said it anyway)

All of us have an X factor in youth ministry. We are looking for the missing number that makes our equation of youth ministry work.

What times x = more kids

What times x = students participation

What time x = growing disciples.

These are a all equations we wrestle with at one time or another. Algebra helps us out by giving us a system called PEMDAS. This is the order of operations for solving for X. The PEMDAS order for math is

Parenthesis (solve what is inside the parenthesis first)

Exponents (take care of the those tiny numbers in the corner or those bigger numbers)





If you follow the order you solve for x. If you try to solve your equation out of order, you come up with a different and wrong answer. What does this have to do why youth ministry? Everything. God is a God of order. First things first. If you are trying to solve for x in youth ministry, maybe you are trying to solve the problem out of order.

Putting kids in ministry before they are ready.

Not communicating with parents before launching program.

Not telling your spouse about that event.

Throwing something on your leaders before you’ve trained them.

Doing all of these, out of order leads to wrong answers and a confused and disorganized youth ministry. Let me suggest creating your own PEMDAS for youth youth ministry. Someone came up with an acronym for remembering PEMDAS, it goes like this Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. Try creating a PEMDAS for your big equations of youth ministry






Order of Service

Here  is my personal PEMDAS for ministry

Prayer and Preaching- If God is not in it from the start, I am doomed to fail. If my message is ready, everything else in the program can fail.

Excellence- Do every part of the program/ministry with excellence.

Move Leaders Into Position- Never create a job I have to do myself.

Details- Pay attention to the small things like communicating with parents and leadership or checking the weather forecast for any upcoming event.

Altar Time- Allow kids to respond to what God puts on their hearts.

Student Involvement and Feedback – Kids make it work. Involve them early, ask their opinion, get their feedback.

This is an over arching PEMDAS but it helps guide my weekly and monthly programming. If I do things out of order, X becomes fuzzier and fuzzier. Try creating your own PEMDAS and leave it in the comments below.

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