Youth ministry vision

For a couple months now, myself and a couple other people here in Jackson have been talking about the future of youth ministry in Jackson County.  At present, there is only one church in Jackson County that has a youth director (1st Baptist in Jackson) and that person is only part time.  We see a huge mission field that needs to be tapped.

Right now the vision we have been playing with and praying about is to have a ministry set up with a full time person running the ministry.  This ministry would be run and supported by a board of directors (representative of all the churches).  We believe this ministry needs to be located outside of our church buildings and in a neutral location (possibly an old store front downtown).  We have toured other community youth ministry programs to get an idea of what we might be able to do.  We visited The Connection in Canby, MN and the Youth For Christ center in Fairmont, MN.  In the Dawson, MN area there is a rural youth ministry network that just started this past fall called Route 212.  They don’t have a building, but that is something they are praying about.  And I know there is a community youth ministry program/building in Olivia, MN.

Is Jackson next?

The main thing for us (and the other ministries we have looked at) is that this ministry needs to be a Bible based, Christian ministry.  We recognize that our different denominations have various beliefs and practices, but when it comes right down to it, we believe that Jesus Christ is our salvation.  There are many things we can agree upon and we want to celebrate that.

This vision started with Salem and Our Savior’s Lutheran Churches talking about sharing a youth director…now it has grown to this.  So today at 1pm a bunch of us are getting together to pray.  We know that if this is God directed and ordained then we can not fail…but we need to be faithful and listen to God’s voice.  So we are committed to praying about this and listening.  We don’t know how this ministry will look or if we are even called to do this, but one thing I do know…there is a lot of excitement about this among our small group.  Our hope is that, if this is ordained by God, this vision will catch on with others.

So my questions for you are these: Is there anyone out there that has a community youth ministry program in their area?  How is it set up?  What is your experience with it?

Like I said, I don’t know where this will go and there are a lot of questions to be asked and answered, but where ever it does go, it will be all for the glory of God.

Praise be to God!


10 thoughts on “Youth ministry vision

  1. Thank you for stopping by. I am have been pleasantly amazed about the people that God has brought into our lives to offer their help and insight. This is one of the reasons for our excitement. The next group of people we are praying for and about is the group that will step forward and champion this vision. I would love to, but as a pastor I don’t think I can put the energy into that it deserves. The model we have seen is that the ministerial casts the vision and hand it over to a group to run with it. But we’ll see what God has in mind for us.

  2. I’ll admit we don’t have a youth director here, nor do we have a rural team. I do know that my best friend in college went into a situation like you’re proposing and he will never do ministry again. It absolutely ate him up. Based on that, it seems it needs to be almost a complete separate entity, and there needs to be strong advocates for the youth minister to protect them. As soon as they chose a congregation to worship at, they will be viewed as the favored congregation. I suspect it has a chance as long as each congregation views it as another organization they give benevolence to. I don’t know that you can refer to that person as “our youth director” if that person is shared amongst multiple congregations.

    Having said all of that do you really need a paid youth minister? I suspect the days of youth specific programing is numbered. The way I look at it, every Sunday you have a room full of youth ministers gathered, they’re just not trained yet. We need to be training our congregations so that youth (and children) of all ages are truly and fully accepted into the entire life of the congregation. I know most places say that anyone can usher, read scripture, etc. but the reality is they won’t ask anyone under the age of 60 for fear they will “do it wrong.” We need to help people know that five year olds are going to make a bit of a ruckus and pace up and down the pews. We need to celebrate the kids are there and engage in their play instead of scolding the parents, making the family feel unwelcome, because my kids were quiet and never got up to go to the bathroom when I was a parent. You know what? That was a different age.

    One of the big trends in youth ministry over the last few years is taking youth on mission trips. I think that’s awesome. How much more lasting impact might that trip have if it were an intergenerational trip? Now, all of a sudden, you have a mentoring program going as well. You also have an outreach program where you can more easily invite in “non-members” or “non-Christians” to participate and learn about God’s love.

    Finally (don’t we all hope), where is the biggest gathering point for youth in your congregation? If you are like most places I’ve been around, that would be at the high school football/basketball…games. One of THE best ministry things you can do in youth ministry is attend those games. You will get way more mileage showing up at cheering Friday night at a game than you will at any program you put together. Most kids, like their parents, are too busy to come to any programs anyway. So what if you assembled a team of adults and give them the assignment to attend games and interact with youth, beyond their own kids, and tell them how awesome they are.

    I’ve probably rambled too much and little makes sense. I can’t help it, I get riled up when it comes to youth ministry. You asked in another place about book recommendations and I would like to suggest “The Present Future” by Reggie McNeal. It challenges us to rethink the way we do ministry, and why not start with the youth. They’ll actually “get it.”

  3. Wow…thank you Brad. I appreciate all your thoughts about our youth ministry venture. I am going to run this off and share this with the visioning group. But a couple responses first:

    (1) What we are talking about is a youth ministry program that is indeed a separate entity. One of the first things we talked about is that we didn’t want this ministry to be viewed as “belonging” to this or that church. So we are being very carefully about that.

    (2) One of the reason we want a paid, full-time, trained youth director is that they would in turn train others for the ministry. We do not expect nor do we want one person doing it all. I worked in a large mega church as a junior high youth director while in seminary. The way we did ministry was to train others. It was a small group ministry model.

    (3) Athletic events…I agree. I attend but not as much as I would like. But sending out adult to interact with kids during a basketball? I’m sorry, but I do not see that working here.

    Once again, I thank you for your comments and I thank you for the book recommendation. I will indeed check it out. God bless.

  4. It sounds like you’re on the right path. I wish you all well and I will hold you in my prayers… I will admit that, while I’m not in your context, I am convinced a team of adults getting to know youth at school events can work, but won’t necessarily be well received. I think it’s part of changing the mindset of people. The “team” in my idea is really the parents already attending those events. The ministry begins with encouraging their own kids and then expands as they encourage and get to know their kids friends as real people that can be talked to directly. For Marge & Howard, the retired farmers, who don’t attend those kinds of events their charge is to see the youth as “real” people who have names and interests just like they do. I think the weight falls on the adults because it can be intimidating for youth/kids to talk to “older” adults. However, we also (at the same time) need to be working with our youth to appreciate and be respectful of these potential relationships as well.

    Hmmm… in attempting to clarify my thought, I fear I may have complicated it instead. I must be a pastor… I hope I made some sense. I think it “can” work, but doesn’t mean that it “will” work.

  5. You did not complicate things…I appreciate the thoughts.

    Training adults…all adults…to interact with youth is important. I know there are “older” people in the congregation that have a shewed view of youth culture. Also…I probably shouldn’t poo poo idea of “teams” of adults ministering to kids at school events. If God is leading us in that direction then it cannot fail. I need to be open to all possibilities. And if we do things correctly it probably can work here.

  6. I have been serving rural churches in in the NW now for 13 years & have several different models to work from. My primary strategy is understood from the web site but there are several others to consider – I like to talk to someone via the phone if possible – my # is 206-954-4100 – let’s talk and see if the Lord is leading us to pursue something bigger than ourselves < Tom

    • Thanks for stopping by and thank you for the information. I am going to pass this onto my colleagues working on this youth ministry vision. We have a meeting coming up soon.

  7. we are embarking on a similar endevour. How has this worked so far? I have seen no follow ups from you. BTW new to your blog, like it.

    • Jeff – Thanks for stopping by.

      Sorry for the lack of updates. Things had been moving slow so I decided to wait until something is more definitive before I gave an update. Right now it looks like we will have a building by the first of the year. I believe we have enough people for a board of directors so hopefully they can start fund raising and hire someone. There are other exciting thing going on but I want to wait until more details are finalized.

      In short…we are still progressing and this it still something we believe will happen soon. Thanks for your interest and God bless you in your ministry.

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