Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Remembering the Beginning

When we took this position as Youth Minister we had a team of 7 volunteers. Over the years, 2 have moved away, 1 dropped out of church and 2 have "taken a break" permanently apparently. We have recruited a new male Sunday School teacher and a female volunteer to be a warm friendly body on Wednesday night...bringing our total currently to 4. We have 10 students who are interested in being student leaders. (7 of which are boys) We have asked the congregation for adult volunteers to mentor these students, offering of course to help and train them to be mentors. 10 people signed up; none of them men. Besides Daniel, we have one male adult who interacts with our students on Sunday mornings. (He helps with the children's ministry on Wednesday nights and does an awesome job on Sundays AND wednesdays with both age groups!) We have a HUGELY difficult time finding adults to teach, mentor or just generally BE around our teenagers! I found our "Philosophy of Youth Ministry" and I know that it was one of the reasons the search committee was so interested in us. Please pray for us as we try to find ways to recruit and include adults in loving students here in Big Lake.

Philosophy of Youth Ministry

A healthy, growing, God-honoring Youth Ministry does not just happen. It must be intentional at its core. We attempt to build our ministry on four basic principles; each of which has many different aspects that interact to form a solid foundation.

Relationship - If you were to ask a group of people to recall any sermon or talk that changed their life, we would be willing to bet that you would get few answers. Ask the same group about a person who changed their life by investing in them and you will get a much more dramatic answer. We are designed to be relational with God and others. We believe the quickest way to truly reach a student for Christ is to love them and invest in them; maintaining a relationship and dialog that always is willing and able to show the grace that has been shown to us. Taking them along with us in our lives and doing life together with them (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Christ gave an excellent example of this as He taught large crowds. He singled out twelve from the crowd but then took three of them even deeper. Following this example, we believe that adult leaders should be investing in the crowd in general, but should also have one to three students in which they are investing the bulk of their heart, time, and energy.

Community - Relationship flows directly into community. God formed us for relationships; we cannot stress that enough! As God designed us to experience a relationship with Him through Christ and the Spirit, he designed us to have community with each other as well. We are firm believers that Paul tells us to bear one another's burdens because we were never designed to bear those loads on our own. That being said, a healthy Youth ministry should be an environment where these burdens and needs can be safely shared and met. Another side to community is the availability of accountable relationships. When you have a close enough relationship with those you trust, you allow them to challenge you to keep growing.

Maturity – What we mean here is “learning to grow on their own.” Many of us have the tendency to coast along on the relationship and teaching of others, never personalizing it and making it a faith of our own. When a student does this it often looks as if they graduate from their faith when they graduate from high school. To stop this trend from occurring we strive to present students with tools to help them own their faith as well as the community and mentoring relationships mentioned above. Students who experience Christ and then grow, naturally desire to make new connections and invite others along for the journey.

Service – Students who decide to grow and mature in Christ then turn and serve, discovering their gifts and talents and using them to the best of their ability. Because of this, we always want to offer opportunities for adults and students alike to use their gifts inside and outside the church to meet needs. In addition, service is one of the ways that we identify leaders in the first place. The example that Christ set for us teaches that the servants are the leaders, and that the leaders are servants.

In working with students, we have come to value the fact that if we try to do all the work ourselves, then we will not really get much work done. If we can enlist and train other volunteers to do the work with us, then instead of adding to the effectiveness of a ministry, we can multiply it instead. As much as students need others to come alongside them in relationship, community, maturity, and service; we need others to walk with us as well. Remember, we cannot say this enough: we were created for relationships.

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