The Holy Spirit helps believers grow as disciples of Jesus who are becoming more and more like their Master. This includes believing children. As youth ministry workers, leaders and parents, our role is to serve with the Spirit in this vital process.
References to: Ted Johnston
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16). Our passion and commitment in children’s ministry is to not only to let them come, but to bend down, gently take them by the hand, and lead them to Jesus, who already is reaching out to them with open arms.
In youth ministry, we need to ask three key questions:
- Why youth ministry? (What are our core values?)
- What should youth ministry be? (What is our mission?)
- How should youth ministry be conducted? (What is our strategy?)
We believe that youth ministry should be grounded on the following core values and directed toward the following mission.
Youth ministry core values
We begin with some essential beliefs about God, God’s will and the church’s appropriate response:
All Christians share in the challenge and responsibility of making our congregations places where people of all ages are encouraged and enabled to become increasingly mature disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That mission involves helping others meet Christ, know Christ and serve with Christ.
Our goal in youth ministry is to help children, teens and college-age young adults become active followers of Jesus. A follower of Jesus is one who is in communion with God, through Christ. In that relationship, Jesus gives them the Holy Spirit, through whom they share in Jesus’ love for God and for people, and they are equipped and empowered to actively participate with Jesus in his ministry patterns.
The great joy of those who minister to children, teens and college-age young adults is seeing them in fellowship with God and with the community of Christ’s body, the church (1 John 1:3-4).
This fellowship is theirs through Jesus Christ, manifested in the love God extends to them through caring peers and adult mentors and teachers who reach out to young people in Jesus’ name. These adults include the parents and youth ministry leaders and workers who are so important to the birth and development of young followers of Jesus.
Healthy youth ministry, like all authentic Christian ministry, originates with God and flows from the person of Jesus through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Christian ministry is the sovereign work of God, yet God, in his divine freedom and grace, invites us to partner with him in his disciplemaking work. As followers of Jesus, we are disciples and equipped and commissioned to be disciplemakers.
The powerful principle that underlies the foundations of youth ministry is that the Holy Spirit makes disciples of Jesus. Our job is to cooperate (co-minister) with him. One of the most important ways we do so is by providing a healthy environment for the Spirit to do his disciplemaking work. In this series, we’ve described six essential characteristics (foundations) of disciplemaking environments:
In Carl Sagan’s novel Contact, an astronomer devotes her life to making contact with intelligent beings beyond our solar system. The means by which she is drawn into that contact makes for thrilling science fiction. I like Sagan’s writing (he was an excellent author and a brilliant scientist), but what I wish he had learned before his death in 1996 is that we don’t have to go looking for intelligent life in outer space—it’s already made contact with us.