The teenage years fly by, but their impact, like lasts a lifetime. Young people are not the future of the church. They are the church. And it’s the church’s job to disciple them and equip them for ministry. It’s no longer good enough to play a movie, give them a basketball and hand them a slice of pizza in the hopes they get to know Jesus.
Before you know it, that 11-year-old will be off to college and will either be serving Christ faithfully or following the ways of the world. We can’t make their choices for them, but we can create an environment that gives them the best chance to grow in Him.
Your students need Biblical knowledge, leadership opportunities and experience with both Christ and his body. We must reach young people who don’t know Christ and help them grow.
However, a goal without a plan is just dream. If your goal involves discipling young people, then there should be a plan backing it up. If you can’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.
Youth ministry without a plan can be a lot of fun, but it won’t get much done. You can have parties, play video games, watch movies, go camping, etc., but without a plan to turn youth into disciples, you’ve just wasted a lot of time and money.
There are whole-church solutions out there that can help churches disciple young people and build leaders.
These solutions have specific pathways that can be built to move students through the discipleship and leadership process. Thinking through your leadership and discipleship plan allows you and your team the time and space to hear the voice of God as it relates to meeting young people’s needs. Everyone may not follow the path exactly as written, they may skip steps or have to repeat them. But, an established path provides a framework to make good decisions. And, you can assign different steps to be the responsibility of different people.
Here are a few examples of how this can be done.
Let’s say small group work is key to your church’s vision of discipleship and your church wanted to see every young person co-lead a small group with two friends. What steps could a visitor at Friday Night Pizza Night take to fulfill your church’s vision? You may decide you would want them to follow a path like this.
Step 1: Follow-up phone call.
Step 2: Youth staff “friend” on Facebook
Step 3: Coffee/ Soda/ Food with youth staff member
Step 4: Invited to a small group by small group leader
Step 5: Attends a small group
Step 6: Joins a small group
Step 7: Attends small group leaders Boot Camp
Step 8: Finds two partners with whom to lead new group
Step 9: Starts new small group
Step 10: Brings someone from small group to small group leader Boot Camp
Step 11: Shares at small group leaders Boot Camp
When young people graduate from youth to young adult, they either need to lead or leave. They can’t stay. If your youth Ministry is good, they’ll want to hang around. If your youth ministry isn’t good, you have other problems. You have to have a plan for them.
Step 1: Identify seniors graduating from high school.
Step 2: Invite to senior banquet and hand them interest survey.
Step 3: Enjoy senior banquet
Step 4: Applications given to those interested in serving in youth ministry
Step 5: Interviews with applicants
Step 6: Names of graduating seniors not interested or not qualified for service given to young adult pastor.
Step 7: Full day leadership training.
Worship Team Member
Or, What if you’re trying to build your youth worship team? What would the ideal process look like? It might look like this:
Step 1: Love of God and a desire to worship identified
Step 2: Musical ability identified
Step 3: Youth worship leader probes for interest
Step 4: Application packet filled out
Step 5: Interview and audition
Step 6: Two practices with band
Step 7: Play with band on stage
Step 8: Become part of the regular rotation
Why do this in with a whole church solution? Because it is a better way to assist in your ministry efforts. It’s designed with church staff & congregation in mind, allowing for total staff administration and total member engagement.