One of the most exciting ministries in the church is working with young people. Teenagers are full of life and working with them is a constant joy. I was a Youth pastor for 11 years in two different churches and was almost sad the day I was “promoted” and had to leave the youth ministry. I would do it all over again and want to encourage anyone looking for a ministry in the church to think about serving youth and leading them to Christ. Here’s what it’s going to take:
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE: Young people need a lot of love. They are trying to discover their identity and usually struggle with feelings of insecurity and acceptance. Loving them for who they are is a gift you give them as they transition toward adulthood. They appreciate feeling valued and when you show interest in their lives. Ask them questions about their life and then listen intently. Some young people have no one to listen to them. Let God’s love shine through you! (Phil 2:3-4)…let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
UNDERSTANDING: Those who work with teens need to recognize adolescent behavior for what it is. Not only is their body changing but also their emotional and psychological development is transforming. Then add on their curiosity about spiritual things and you’ll find that so much is happening in them at such a rapid pace. Understanding this will put you in a mode of acceptance, the very thing they appreciate and makes the feel valued. (Rom 15:7) Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
BE YOURSELF: Some say the most effective youth worker is the young and cool person who knows all about the current pop culture the youth are into and can talk their language. It is valuable to be discerning of current trends but you don’t have to be hip to reach young people. That means you can be any age and any type of person. Kids are reached through love not by wearing the right jeans or the coolest shoes. Don’t try to be one of them. Just be yourself because God made you who you are and He can use you and your background just the way it is. (Psa 139:14) I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…
JOY: Young people are out for a lot of fun. Having joy is a way of letting them know that walking with the Lord is the happiest life there is. (Psa 144:15)…Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!
TIME AND ENERGY: Youth ministry is an active ministry due to the nature of the energy a young person has. This means lots of energy is needed to keep up with them and lots of activities need to be provided for them. This incorporates not just Bible study time but also fun excursions, sports, games, camps, outreaches, mission trips, staying up late, etc. (Neh 8:10) … the joy of the Lord is your strength.”