The Goal of Youth Ministry

Youth Specialties
June 30th, 2014

With all the changes that have taken place in youth ministry over the years, we have to continue to ask the question: What is the goal of our youth ministry and how does it affect the global Church? Neely McQueen sits down with Chap Clark in this YS Idea Lab to talk over the history of youth ministry and keeping our focus on helping students find their place in the church long after we are gone.  

If you don't have time to watch the entire YS Idea Lab, here is a quick list to give you just that top layer of goodness: 

Youth ministry emerged out of an idea that we were losing our kids and they needed a personal connection to faith within the church. Our goals become focused around them as individuals liking our programs, coming to events, and personally exhibiting an interest in faith. 


We thought that if they enjoyed what we did in our youth ministries, that it would automatically translate to them finding a place in the larger Church body. 


It created the idea that they as an individual can have the full experience of the Christian faith within their youth ministry. 


The problem became that we were so focused on the singular that students had individualistic faith experience with no connection to the rest of the church. Our focus has to shift from being just about the singular to finding a balance that also guides students into the plural, connecting their faith with the body of Christ outside of youth ministry. 


The danger of youth ministry is that we think we can create Christian community within a single demographic instead of thinking about a larger family of God, both local and historical, across all human history.


Our goal has to be leading students to find their individual faith through the process of discovering their place in that larger Christian community. Students should have that personal response within an understanding that Christianity is much bigger than them.


Are we leading students to connect their faith with both the historical and local expression of God’s people on the earth? Is our goal to get students to be Christians within our little group or are we calling students to be a part of the larger body of Christ?


But this has to be something that the entire Church takes on. It is easy for students to feel like they are cast aside and that the only way they can be a part of the bigger Church community is to assimilate, which implies that they are the ones that must change to belong. Our call as the larger Church isn't to assimilate students but to adopt students into community, which changes who we are to receive students as they are. 


If students understand that Christ wants them to be a part of His family, then they'll find a place within the body of Christ that isn't dependent on a youth worker's personal relationship with them and their faith will last long after we are gone. 

See more YS Idea Lab's in our Idea Lab List on YouTube.

Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.