There are youth departments which are large in number because they are willing to compromise in certain areas of standards, music, and even preaching of the Bible. However, independent Baptist Youth Departments of the past and those of the present are those which established some very important principles that not only enhanced their growth but also kept them growing properly. We do not want to “swell” numbers; we want to grow with teenagers who are growing in Christ. Let me describe the kind of balance a growing church should have.
Most parents will put up with a lot if their children are happy. Have you been to a recital, soccer, or baseball field lately? The fact is that people today are more concerned than ever about their children. In fact, we live in a society where our behaviors are greatly controlled by youth. While I do not believe we ought to cater to the youth, I do believe we ought to be conscious of providing for them in a way that meets the needs of the family. Youth and children programs are important in a growing church. I want to make note here that these ministries are not for entertainment, but for teaching our children and youth how to love and serve the Lord Jesus.
1. Have A Strong Bible-Preaching And Bible-Teaching Emphasis
There is a mistaken idea that big youth departments cannot be strong Bible preaching churches which is absolutely a false assumption. In fact, the great churches I have personally known were all built with an emphasis on Bible preaching and Bible teaching. So why would the youth department be any different? I have always placed a premium on elevating the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Strong Bible preaching and weekly Bible teaching builds a strong people that will produce a growing youth department.
2. Strong Youth Pastoral Leadership
It is a mistaken notion that a big church is personality driven. Strong leadership is not dictatorial in nature as some may suggest. A strong leader is one who takes responsibility for overseeing every aspect of the youth department just as Nehemiah did in leading in the rebuilding of Jerusalem! It is obvious that Nehemiah did not rebuild those walls alone in fifty-two days. However, the book is named after the leader of those people. Youth Departments do not grow unless there is a youth pastor leading them with a biblical vision to grow. Many a big church was built by a great leader then maintained in later years by a board, but a growing church has strong pastoral leadership at the helm. A youth department is the same. It must have a strong youth pastor leading.
3. Have A Good Environment For Volunteers
We will never build a growing church with paid staff. Churches are built by the volunteers from the pews. As good a staff as I have (and I believe I have the best), it has been the volunteers from the pews who have caused our growth. We are a church of volunteers. The great wars for freedom were won by volunteers. You can maintain freedom with
professional soldiers, but you will not win liberty without those who love it enough to sacrifice for it.
4. Work To Reach Families
I love the bus ministry. That is no secret. The truth is that the greatest emphasis of our church is in reaching families, and that includes the bus ministry. Inevitably, the goal of every ministry is to reach families for Christ.
We are a family church with a love for bus boys and girls – not a bus kid church. I have seen churches which tried to grow on the back of their bus ministry and ended up not reaching those precious children. The more we reach families the more others we can reach as well. The more families that we reach, the more ministries our church can maintain and use to reach others. If you want your youth department to grow you need to reach families!
5. Have A Strong Vision
A youth department will not grow if there is no vision for growth. Great builders are visionaries. A proper biblical vision is driven by a leader’s heart that spends time in the Word of God. We must have a vision that is driven by a biblical passion for souls; then they will be on the right track with the proper balance for growth. Where we are today here at Clays Mill Baptist Church is a result of the vision we have as a church, and that vision started with me as the pastor. If we are not where we should be, it is because my vision was too small; but, I have had a vision for growth from my first day as pastor. My vision is ever expanding as I see what God could do with us as we are willing to continue to make the sacrifices and do the work. Your growth in the youth department is directly correlated to the vision that you have for them to grow.
Jeff Fugate | Pastor
Clays Mill Baptist Church