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  • Writer's pictureDr. Pamela Davis

5 Components Every Church Youth Ministry Should Have

If you have a youth ministry that has engaged all of the youth within your ministry walls - you are doing model work. The effects of the pandemic has caused youth programs to struggle with enrollment and engagement. Even prior to the pandemic, it proved hard to maintain the attention of youth through ministry activities. To attempt to have a relevant and thriving youth program, it should contain 5 things: youth, a youth leader, relevant curriculum, an activity schedule, and allow student voice.

It goes without saying that your youth program should have youth, however I think it is critical to discuss how to identify the youth within your church community. If you are serious about engaging the youth in your community, you should have a database of your student population. This database can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet or as comprehensive as a platform that houses your membership information. Nonetheless, the data should list the students that you see (or are engaged with) every week and it should also include those students who are a part of the membership but you have not seen. As you work to increase the percentage of engaged youth in your church community, identifying all possible participants in your reach is the first step.

You are going to need a dynamic youth leader. A few attributes that come to mind are: likes kids, is good with kids, kids like them too. This is surface level indicators. I recognize that in many churches, staff in these roles are volunteering. If this is in fact the case, it is important to select someone that even though they are volunteering, they still: likes kids, are good with kids, and kids still like them too. I want to emphasize that I've seen churches select associate pastors to lead the youth ministry; in my opinion almost for the pure sake of having a minister assigned. I advise that if you are going to do this, that you pair the minister with someone who is relatable and who has ties to the school district(s) that your church community serves. This can be a current teacher, school counselor, administrator, or social worker. Youth leaders that have some connection with the school community are able to use the inside intel to create a more relevant programming schedule on the ministry side.

Using relevant curriculum is an essential component. Curriculum that is Bible-based but that includes student friendly language with appropriate scenarios that connect to the challenges that students are experiencing now. Youth will be respectful of the Bible, but we lose ground with them when we are unable to translate and turn-key how they can apply the scripture lesson to what is happening to them present day. Show around for curriculum that contains scripture and real-world discussion questions.

Every youth ministry needs a programming calendar. An annual schedule that lays out the activities that will occur each month. I recommend designated 1 day a month that will be set aside for the youth ministry. It will be important to map out the schedule and plan events that align with holidays, spring break, and other activities that youth are interested. Less is more. If your youth community is not accustomed to meeting monthly, select a quarterly schedule. Plan ahead and execute with fidelity.

Out of all the things I've said, please hear me on this one. Ask the students what they would like to see happen within their ministry activities. As adults, we think we know (everything). Quite often, we miss the mark because we chose something that was convenient for us as adults. Establish a youth leadership council. Create a way for students to share feedback with you about activities, curriculum, and just in general about what they need from the youth ministry.

Need some ideas about engaging your youth? Wanna schedule a strategy session? Need a workshop facilitator for your youth ministry? Contact me

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