Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Secret Sauce for Youth Ministry

I taught a youth ministry class at Grace College concerning foundational principles within youth ministry. The goal was to help the students understand practically and pragmatically how to run a youth ministry.

I had the opportunity to share with them the secret sauce to our youth ministry. We measure how well we are doing in our youth ministry against the 5 W's.

A youth ministry should focus on:
1. Welcoming others - This is the #1 reason why people remain at a church
2. Worship - Help others see that God is working daily in their lives
3. Witnessing to others - Focus on reaching out to unsaved people
4. Word - A time to study and be sharpened by God's Word
5. Walk - Accountability and sharpening by others

Practical Ways To Welcome

 Create a culture where people feel accepted!
- Adults sit with teenagers
- Teenagers positioned to greet first time guests
- Everyone has a voice or the ability to share during small group
- Must be modeled by the youth pastor. Things are caught rather than taught
- Never underestimate the attitude of complacency or being ok with the status quo within a youth ministry. You must lead people or they will naturally form cliques.

Practical Ways to Worship

Create experiences where teenagers connect and understand God is working

- Testimonies should happen regularly within your youth group
- Get them to see God is working every day
- Create moments that use imagery and symbolism to cement decisive youth group moments
- Make sure that you raise up teenagers in the youth band

Practical Ways to Witness

Create a sense of urgency within your youth ministry for lost people. Evangelism is the engine that drives your youth ministry.

- Youth pastors who evangelize have students who evangelize. Youth pastors’ who don’t evangelize have students who don’t. Visit teenagers on their turf.
- Provide practical training and give them something to hand to people
- Make sure they are trying to reach at least one person for Jesus
- Have outreaches to teenagers by teenagers and outreaches to the community by teenagers
- Take teenagers on mission trips. Send teams locally, regionally, and internationally.

Practical Ways to Word

Create ways in which students can learn and know God’s Word

- Give them devotional materials. Most teenagers won’t study God’s Word unless you give them something and challenge them. Hold them accountable
- Small Groups are discussions of the lesson and they use God’s Word
- Teach teenagers to pray on their own
- Give Bibles out to teenagers who get baptized or as gifts

Practical Ways to Walk

Teenagers are looking for people who will lovingly correct them. They will thank you for it.

- Every student needs to be paired up with a small group leader. Leader charts attendance and if students did their devotionals. Leader texts them/contacts them throughout the week to encourage them.
- Only allow teenagers up front who are walking the walk even if they are not as skilled.
- Focus attention on your student leadership. Hold them to a high standard!
- Mentor one student. Focus time on three aspects: Word, practical ministry, accountability
 Remember, do not be afraid to lovingly confront others. God calls us to do it (Matthew 18)

I find that within many youth ministries the focus is on a few of the 5 W's and they can become unbalanced. The goal is to become a balanced and holistic youth ministry that focuses on these 5 W's.

Where do you think your youth ministry or small group or church fits within the 5 W's paradigm?


  1. I recognize those five Ws. From our talks at Bob Evans. Glad you can use them.


  2. I recognize those five Ws. From our talks at Bob Evans. Glad you can use them.