The purpose of youth ministry should be clear for churches and families wanting to glorify Christ.
One reason is that it’s simply natural for both sides to put objectives like discipleship and biblical teaching first. Another reason is that, in this case, youth ministry targets a demographic that experiences a lot of change.
Adolescents who are on the cusp of obtaining a driver’s license, a job, or increased independence can feel pressure on their priorities. In fact, a related life event — moving to college — is the leading reason why young adults stop attending church, according to a survey from Lifeway Research. It found that two-thirds of American young adults who attended a Protestant church for at least a year as a teenager dropped out for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22.
When the identity, activities, and relationships correspond to the true purpose of youth ministry, it can better disciple and inspire young people in their faith.
How the Word of God Approaches the Topic of Youth
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Then said I:
“Ah, Lord God!
Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me:
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
For you shall go to all to whom I send you,
And whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of their faces,
For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord.
Jeremiah 1: 4-8 NKJV
Jeremiah was most likely a teenager — probably between 12 and 17 — when he was called to be a prophet. That’s around the age when Joseph, David, Esther, Mary, and others had life-changing experiences.
In some environments, there’s a feeling that “children are our future” and that, until they’re adults, they won’t truly make a major impact. But the Word of God utterly rejects that sentiment. Children and adolescents already have and will continue to change this world and the next, in service of God and in fulfillment of His will.
Teens today may not literally hear the voice of God (like Jeremiah) or have some clear, divine dream of the future (like David, Joseph, and Mary), but they can have clarity in their place within His kingdom. And they can absolutely make an incredible, God-given impact. Look at how Paul encouraged Timothy in his ministry in Ephesus.
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12
It’s not at all clear how old Timothy was, but what is clear is the place of young people in God’s kingdom. Age isn’t a burden for understanding His purpose and carrying it out. Sometimes, it’s exactly when people begin to understand their place and role in it all. For others, it may take several years to discern exactly how they will glorify God in their lives.
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The Purpose of Youth Ministry
Youth ministry engages young people in their faith to explore who God is and what He has to say about their lives. It helps them understand their true value. And it does all of this within an environment of fellowship and mentoring.
In a word, it’s discipleship. The purpose of youth ministry is to disciple young people in a way that helps them discover and then prepares them to live out their God-given purpose for their lives. Youth ministry prioritizes faith, a focus on prayer and reading Scripture, and a mindset to be leaders in various aspects of life.
How that plays out will vary. There are elements like relational ministry, small groups, student leadership, and other items, like the role of volunteers, that youth ministry leaders should consider. Different ministry objectives and events can all go hand-in-hand to build an effective and immersive youth ministry that builds young people’s faith and supports churches’ and families’ goals.
You can explore those areas by earning an online bachelor’s in youth and family ministries, which offers a versatile curriculum for helping you connect and engage youth and parents in a way that glorifies God and fulfills His will. You’ll explore biblical and theological coursework as well as topics in psychology, public speaking, and more to promote the healthy spiritual, emotional, and social development of parents and children.
And if you already have a bachelor’s degree, the online Master of Transformative Ministry can equip you to transform individuals, communities, and organizations for God’s glory. It’s a strong option for a range of career opportunities in church ministry, parachurch ministry, and nonprofit organizations.
Both degrees are 100% online. You’ll learn in a flexible environment at Point University, which pursues a mission to educate students for Christ-centered service and leadership throughout the world.
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