At this years Church Growth Conference, I was asked the question “How do I start a Youth Ministry?” I met with many of the Youth Workers who had come for training and was encouraged by the hunger to reach teenagers. Yet there were still so many questions, “we only have a few teens in our church, how can we have a Teen Department?” “Where do you find teens?” “How do you get them to church?” Others had recently started and had found a few teenagers but had a strong desire to grow and impact their church and community for Christ. When the Conference was over I jotted down “Seven Suggestions for Starting and Sustaining a Strong Youth Department”
I. Start With What You’ve Got
Have a meeting with the Teenagers in your church. Whether 2 or 20, share with them your purpose, plan and passion for the Youth Department in your church.
“But all I have are Bus Teens” – Then Start with Them!
“But all I have are Juniors”- Then Start with Them!
If you absolutely, positively cannot find one single young person anywhere in the ministries of your church, or if you have some but want more…. Start Soul winning and go win some to the Lord!!!!
II. Secure Workers
While this may just include running things by your wife, you will need more than one person to have a growing Youth Department. You will need a lady to work with the young ladies and a man to work with the young men. There are no set worker to teen ratios because each ministry is different. However, having at least one of each is advised.
III. Set A Time to Meet
Whether it is on Wednesday night in conjunction with the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting or another night during the week, have a service set aside just for the Youth Department. Here at CMRBC, we meet at 5:45 for “Power Hour” our weekly Teen Service before our 7PM Bible Study and prayer meeting.
IV. Study the Scriptures
During your Youth Meetings, have games, skits, songs and times of fun. But center everything around the Word of God. Make sure from day one that your Youth Department is built on the Bible. Have sermons and lessons at EVERY meeting and activity. Whether it is a full blown sermon, or just a devotion on the way home from the zoo- Preach the Word!
V. Shape Spiritual Influence
One of the main reasons that you should not let numbers dictate how you operate your Youth Department is because each teenager represents the opportunity for you to influence them for the Will of God. Visit them in their homes, write them letter, check on them when they miss, praise them when they do well and correct them when they do wrong. Build more than just a group, build a relationship with every teenager in that group.
VI. Schedule Activities
In addition to your weekly meeting, have some special activities that you can promote to the Youth Department. Have activities at the church, traveling to a preaching conference, going skiing, laser tag, go-carts, etc. This will encourage new teens to come and keep current teens excited about all that is going on at church!
VII. Support the Pastor and the Church 100%
Everything the Youth Department does should be in step with the direction of the Pastor and the church. There are many churches who claim to be “Old Fashioned” but if you peak into their Youth Department you will find a different story. You do not have to build a counter culture or even a subculture in the Youth Department. Keep the Youth Department exactly what it is supposed to be; a branch of the church. The Youth Pastor is not to be leading an anti-establishment rebellion, he is to be preparing the Youth to be faithful serving church members.
This should get you started. If you are already up and going, I make it a practice to push the “Reset” button occasionally, just to make sure I haven’t allowed the Teens, myself or other influence to change the purpose of the Youth Department. If you have any questions, I would be glad to help! Now go start your Youth Department!
Clays Mill Road Baptist Church