Trail Life USA & Effective Youth Ministry

Source imageOne of the benefits of authoring blog posts at “wordpress” is that I’m exposed to a listing of other author’s blogs that may share similar messages and concerns.

The other day, I was reading through summaries of articles on “Youth Ministry” and found a really great article that served as a healthy reminder of why we minister to youth and how we (individually) might become more effective.

Titled “3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader” (click HERE to see the whole article) the blog offered a series of quotes/points worth repeating:

  • “Be intentional about sharing the gospel”
    • When it comes to repeating the best news in the universe, if you feel like a broken record, you’re doing it right.
    • Our tendency as youth leaders is to gravitate toward good advice. But the gospel is not advice for us to suggest self-improvement strategies, but news that is to be received, remembered, and repeated.
    • The sin-shattering, obedience-empowering, finished work of Jesus on the cross should infuse all our sermons, be central to all our counseling, fuel all our work, and define all our relationships. Paul said that dropping this news is the power of God for salvation to those who believe (Rom. 1:16). It is the message through which the Holy Spirit makes hearts that are dead in sin or deceived by religious self-righteousness come alive.
  • “Be intentional about sharing your life”
    • The late Howard Hendricks wrote, “You can impress people at a distance but you can only impact them up close.” The younger generation in the church today deeply need and often greatly desire (though they may not express it) for their parents and leaders to show them practically what it looks like to follow Jesus.
    • Much in the Christian journey is not taught by a transfer of information, but caught through the mutual encouragement of shared lives.
  • “Be intentional about empowering students [trailmen] to do the work of the ministry”
    • As Paul shared the gospel and shared his life, he apparently did so in such a way that encouraged the Thessalonians to do likewise. The result was not a passive consumerism that marks so many of our youth ministries today, but intentional empowerment that led to authentic imitation. Paul writes, “We also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. (1 Thess. 2:13–14)
    • The most effective youth leaders go beyond just providing ministry for students, and instead see their role primarily as equipping students for ministry (Eph. 4:12). Their posture is one of loving empowerment. They understand that true leadership is less about rising up and more about raising up.

Please consider reading the whole article (click HERE), not just the quotes from above…we need to remember that we’re not teaching moralism (behaving nicely, but missing the point of the cross) but the true gospel message that changes lives forever.

It’s easy to make any youth program into an adult planned, adult run, fun time for kids, but we can really challenge our Trailmen at each step of the path to get more involved personally — to step up appropriately and to accept responsibility and participate more fully as they grow.


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