Philosophy of Youth Ministry

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1 Philosophy of Youth Ministry I. Methodology My philosophy of student ministry is to see the lost come to faith in Christ and to see them discipled to maturity in the faith, in order that they can turn around and help disciple others to maturity in the faith, themselves. The main purpose of the Youth Pastor is to come alongside parents and assist them in training the upcoming generation in godliness. He is to minister to them through prayer, the teaching of the Word of God, activities that encourage fellowship and community, and by seeing to it that each student is personally discipled to maturity in Christ. There are two primary means of accomplishing this goal: evangelism and discipleship. The importance of evangelism in youth ministry cannot be overstated, especially since the majority of people that make the decision to accept Christ do so before they move away to college. There are many different methods and activities that can be used to bring in visitors, allowing us to build relationships and share the Good News with them in a personal way. I think outreach activities are a must. Barbecues and family days are a lot of fun, and they are great ways to invite people to come to meet people from the church. I think being visible in the school system is also very important, providing that they will allow me to be involved and spend time doing campus ministries with the kids. Further, I think it s crucial to take the teenagers that we already have, and take them from a place of comfort with their youth group friends, and get them to a place of risk, where they are inviting others to attend our youth group. Campus ministries are getting more and more difficult to run, but they are a tremendous tool to reach young people if implemented correctly. Campus ministries are tools that allow us to go to the students, reaching them in their schools, while they are among their friends. It allows us to interact with them where they feel most comfortable, and reach them with the truth of the Word of God. These clubs are mostly held after school hours, but are designed for the purpose of keeping it convenient and relaxing for the students to attend. Student discipleship is a process by which a mature Christian with a life worth emulating, commits himself or herself to a few individuals for a period of time, with the purpose of aiding and guiding them in their growth to maturity in the faith, and seeing them turn around and in turn disciple others that are coming behind them. I believe that spiritual growth in a teenager is determined first and foremost by their relationship with God, which is manifested in how they treat other people, as well as if they are willing to actively serve in the youth group instead of being a consumer Christian. I think small groups are essential for an efficient and effective discipleship program. As a youth pastor, there is no way that I can personally invest in every single teen in the youth group. For the purpose of seeing that all of them are ministered to, small groups that are led by volunteer leaders would be implemented.

2 Churched students today are comfortable. They enjoy spending time with their close friends, and for the most part they never really step out in faith to allow God to work in their lives. One of my primary goals would be to have students grow in their faith to the point where they are willing to step out of their comfort zone and allow God to use them for His glory. Not until they reach this point will they be able to grow in their faith in Christ. Adolescents need someone that they can look up to that is authentic and transparent with them. They are going through a very transitional stage in their development both spiritually and as people in general, so they are naturally going to have a lot of questions and insecurities. They need solid role models to look up to, and unfortunately their parents are not always those people. It is my intention that I am that role model that they can go to and entrust with various life concerns that they are going through, and I intend to train my volunteer staff in order to prepare them to be role models as well. Ultimately, my purpose in youth ministry is to train up students that will graduate from the youth group and go to college, willing to study for the vocation that God has called them to. I desire to see students that are willing to act in obedience to God s calling in their lives through faith. II. Staffing I like to watch people and study them before I entrust them with any sort of ministry, especially to teenagers, as they are easily influenced. I desire to build a team of those who live lives of maturity, and that are willing to put the time and effort into ministering to and mobilizing this upcoming generation of young people. I would take new leaders through an orientation of how to be an effective youth leader. I would also meet with each leader either weekly or biweekly, depending on the size of the volunteer staff, as well as hosting a leadership meeting at the end of every month. Training staff members for evangelism and discipleship is crucial. Students will naturally connect with volunteer staff and God is faithful to provide opportunities for volunteers to evangelize and/or disciple. Therefore, the volunteer staff must receive training in how to share the Gospel or disciple students in the faith. There must be an initial orientation for lay staff. I would go through with them the plan of salvation, and how to share that effectively and creatively with teenagers that are going through all kinds of life situations. One thing I would be very insistent on is not watering down the Gospel of Jesus Christ as our Lord as well as our Savior. Another part of leadership orientation would be about how to effectively lead small groups and get the teenagers to discuss what is being taught. Training would also include crisis management, as well as things to look for with regard to drugs, alcohol, suicide, depression, eating disorders, etc. and how to deal with these various situations.

3 I am passionate about meeting up with my volunteer staff on a consistent basis to shepherd them in the Word of God. I would also have lay staff events where we all have fun and are able to have fellowship without the teenagers there. This would be a time where I focus on encouraging them and enabling them for the ministry. Constant feedback is important for me, and I would spend time evaluating the lay staff every six months, to ensure that they know where they can be improving in their personal walk with Christ, as well as in their ministry. I do my very best to lead by example and prod others on in the faith. People find out very quickly that I genuinely care about them, and that I expect the best of them because I want them to succeed in life and in their ministries. As a result, my people know that they can be creative and put their personalities into their ministry, but they are also well aware of where the line is and when they cross it. I am not one to lead or motivate by yelling or fear, but rather by teaching others how to reach their full potential and expecting them to do so because the gravity of God s call to obedience. Personal recognition is something that I am faithful to practice. I am truly thankful for those who serve alongside me in ministry. I realize that I could never fully understand how much God is using them to develop me as a child of God and enable me to minister in the areas that God is placing on my heart. I am, however, careful not to give personal recognition to any volunteer or student in such a way that might tempt them to struggle with pride, or set them apart from others in their circle of influence. All conflict is to be handled behind closed doors, especially out of the sight of the students. I understand that conflicts will happen and that people have an agenda in nearly everything they do, so in most situations, the conflict is the direct result of selfishness on the part of at least one member of the staff, if not both. As the mediator, I would allow both sides to speak their minds constructively first, and then encourage them to come to a solution that they both agree on. Then I would have them abide by this agreement, and pray over them. I would also follow up with how things are going in my accountability meetings with them. As the lead youth pastor, one thing I will not accept is any form of disrespect that is taking place behind my back or in front of the students. Any and all conflict should be handled in private, face to face, and it is my duty to see that it happens that way. I understand that conflicts will happen, and that most of the time people are willing to work with me if we simply communicate calmly and work through the problem at hand. If that is the case, I am more than willing to humble myself and listen, as I understand that I do not know everything and I will not do everything the right way. I am willing to work through any conflict and resolve it on the spot, if possible. If there is a situation in which someone simply cannot work under my authority, then it is in both of our best interests that they step away from volunteering in the student ministry. This would be difficult, but I understand that sometimes this has to happen. I think that it is important to do this privately, keeping all of the details between that volunteer leader and myself.

4 III. Teaching Style Teaching the Word faithfully is my primary and fore-most priority. I believe that God has commanded me to shepherd His people, but I cannot do that except by teaching them the Word of God. My teaching style can incorporate both topical and exegetical teaching, but I tend to use the exegetical method more often. I m very passionate about teaching the Word of God in context, so that we may truly understand the truths of Scripture and apply them to our lives. God has gifted me in the area of teaching. In fact, my top two spiritual gifts are Pastor/Shepherd and Teaching. I absolutely love studying the Word of God and knowing Him more, and effectively communicating His truth to others is something that I am very passionate about. I am motivated to see the truth of God s Word click with students as they understand it and begin to grow in their intimacy with God. It is my desire to see students really take off in their spiritual growth and come to realize the power of God in their lives. In my teaching I desire to go as in depth into the Word of God as I can. I truly believe that God is faithful to reveal the truth s of Scripture to those who are diligent to seek them, and I am willing to put in the time necessary for me to be able to communicate through the Spirit what God has for the students to hear. I desire to see the students grow in their love for the Scriptures and for them to be able to study the Scriptures for themselves. As a part of the teaching style, small groups would be a tremendous way to further develop what is taught and allow the students to communicate what they have been learning. I would love to come up with further questions for discussion or to allow the small group leaders to come up with their own questions if they want to. The purpose would be for the students to begin thinking through the things that are taught and how the truths of Scripture relate to their lives. IV. Organization and Program Management My personal planning is all done on Microsoft Excel. I use a spreadsheet that covers time for every 15 minutes of the day, and schedule my time effectively through that. I plan both my personal life and ministry events each week well in advance. In the past it has been difficult to keep my schedule from running my life, but I have taken many strides in putting personal boundaries into my life that allow me to find a balance that combines productivity with flexibility. Long range planning is an area in which I need some work, but I am doing a better job of it lately. One thing I like to do is a concept that I took from Bill Hybel s book called Axiom. I plan out the next six weeks by coming up with my six top priorities over that time period. During each six weeks I determine the six most important things that only I can do, and I focus most of my energy on those six things, while delegating what I can in order to free up time that I alone can put into certain tasks that need to be taken care of. I have a relatively hands on style of organization at first, showing people how I do things, and the results that I expect from them. After that, I am very proactive in letting people use their personality and creativity to minister to their students effectively. I think it is important to let

5 those working with you know where their boundaries are, but let them operate freely within those boundaries. I am the kind of person that will wholeheartedly trust my leaders to effectively minister to their students. V. Strengths/Weaknesses One of my main areas of weakness is over-extending myself in ministry. This is an area that I have grown in recently, but is still something that I would like to work on. I sincerely want to minister to every person that I possibly can, but I realize that I need to set up boundaries for myself in ministry, ensuring the most productive use of my time throughout the day. I also think an area that I would really like to grow in would be counseling, because I see God potentially leading me in that direction, so I would like to be better prepared for different counseling situations that might arise. One of my major strengths is that I find it very easy to be transparent and authentic with people. I can relate on some level to almost anyone, and I find connecting with others easy because I care about them and I want to get to know them. I am a very good listener, so people find it very easy to talk to me. As mentioned before, I am also very blessed in that God has gifted me with the ability to effectively communicate His truths to students in a relevant and efficient way. I am driven to explain the truth s of Scripture and I earnestly desire to see God s Word click in the lives of students.

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