I am not opposed to youth ministry, just ineffective youth ministry. I’ve heard the most asinine discussions about youth ministry, mostly heard during a staff meeting and from senior pastors in particular.
I had some rough kids in one of our youth ministries and had a senior pastor say “Can’t you tell them not to hang in the parking lot, we had guests tonight and it may have been off putting. I don’ know if they’ll come back.” What? At that point I wanted to break out the flame thrower and burn down the youth room deeming this church unworthy of having a youth ministry (Think Paccino in Scent of a Woman)
Aren’t you glad I’m not Christendom’s Minister of Youth Ministry?
But, there is some truth to why some churches should not have a youth ministry. Here are my three reasons a church should not have a weekly youth group element.
Because everyone has one
At this moment Burger King has introduce hot dogs to it’s menu. I think there is a direct tie to Sonic’s success with their hot dogs. When I go to Burger King, I do not want a hot dog, I want a flame broiled whopper. This is called the “me too” syndrome. We add something because someone else is being competitive in that space. If people love that we should have it too.
I like uniqueness. I like to eat at places that are known for something like their awesome grilled cheese sandwiches or Mexican meatloaf (it’s a thing). Churches have become homogeneous. It has lost it’s uniqueness. There is no law that says a church has to have a youth ministry like the one across the street or across the nation. In fact, a church does not have to have a youth ministry at all if it doesn’t want to. I would rather a church be honest to it’s DNA. Not every church should have a weekly youth group meeting but every church can and should do youth ministry.
Instead of having a youth group, why not fold in the students with other ministries, like the men’s and women’s ministries, and have them
- Do missions trips and outreaches together
- Let students meet and organize how they want to serve their community
- Take them to students leadership conferences
- Let them use their tech and social media skills to help the church
- Do an after school program and use your students to run it
- Open a thrift store for missions and let kids work there
If a church only has 5-10 kids, don’t do a traditional youth ministry. Open the doors of opportunity and find ways to expand their Kingdom vision.
To Compete with ____________________(insert rival church here)
- I can preach better than them (check)
- I can program better than them (check)
- I am better looking than them (check)
The last one is debatable, but nevertheless. In almost every community I would feel the necessity to team up with smaller churches to have some big to compete for attention in the community. We’d all gather, have a good time, and congratulate ourselves with “We showed them!”. Well, we didn’t show the. We were still like bugs hitting the windshields far as lasting impact or seeing more kids come to Christ.
Competing with other churches drains us of our uniqueness. We, the church, have the greatest message in the world, serving The Most High God and it must sadden him when we have to do things to compete with our brothers and sister in Christ. The word is clear
Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 2 Corinthians 10:12
Each church has the opportunity and gifts to express the greatness of God in their own way. Youth Ministry is one of those ways so why not have it be a great one? And, if we cannot give it our best, let’s do something we are good and equipped to do well, but still minister to the students of our community.
If it’s not designed to change lives
The “me too” philosophy won’t cut it. Bigger events, just like the church down the street, won’t separate your church from any other. Changed lives, stories of hope, love, deliverance and healing are what the Bible is made up of and what reflects a youth ministry living for God’s glory. We can be so busy comparing programs and rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic that we forget that it’s about the stories of the lives of kids changed by God.
If churches do not set their youth ministries up to impact the lives of the kids in that community, rather than protect their kids from the scary world, it’s a loss. It’s better to not have a youth ministry than have a youth ministry that is there to protect it’s own and keep the status quo.