Youth ministry leaders are engaged in beautiful, relentlessly dynamic service to youth who continue to age in and age out of the ministry arena along the shifting sands of an ever-changing world. Accordingly, the past years of youth ministry service across the Atlantic Union territory have confirmed that the most potent youth ministry strategies are catalysts for ongoing impacts. These strategies that endure youth ministry highs, lows, and plateaus include the following:
1. Prayerful Service
Youth ministry leadership, devoid of incessant prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is empty and evanescent. I concur with Ellen G. White, who declared that “Prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence”—Steps to Christ, p. 94. It is the most significant strategy for youth ministry service. Prayerful ministry receives the power of the Almighty God, the Father of all youth/young adults, who knows each of His children intimately. Ongoing prayer for the Holy Spirit yields guided, blessed, impacting service.
2. Sharing Relationships
We must come to the ministry table with a willingness to put all your gifts and talents thereon, lay them all out, and share them with a heart of love. Youth leaders should also motivate other adults to share their talents with youth, thus creating more impacting, multi-generational relationships.
3. Caring Mentorships
We must be prepared to empower mentees, cheer them on, and provide coaching for success. As flexible, non-judgmental listeners, mentors are candid while being caring enough to value diverse perspectives.
4. Visualize Goals
Scripture clearly asserts that if the blind lead the blind, they both will fall into a ditch (Matthew 15:14). The youth ministry leader should visualize outcomes, dream, and effectively communicate those visions so that others can embrace the same.
5. Humility in Ministry
Service to youth/young adults requires a level of sacrifice that propels the leader to give unselfishly to the cause. Humble leaders are apt to put others first and value each youth/young adult.
Seeking to disciple youth/young adults is the core goal of youth ministry. It is Christ’s command to His children—to go, teach, and baptize; to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).
7. Network for Success
Connecting with other youth leaders—praying with and for like-minded leaders, exchanging ideas and ministry reflections/testimonies—aligns each leader with greater successes. Collaborate and connect with other leaders along the journey.
The Adventist Youth Ministries village is designed to align leaders with successful, impacting service. Youth/young adults, senior youth, parents, coordinators, directors, staff, counselors, other church leaders, and leaders from the conference, union, division, and the General Conference leaders comprise the intricate team that collaborates for youth ministry service. Youth leaders ought to embrace their team or work toward building and empowering a team.
Leadership is an integral part of youth ministry. Youth workers are called to provide guidance to lead youth/young adults and other co-laborers. They need to be self-motivated, have communication skills, and be able to plan, organize, and implement what is necessary to realize ministry goals.
Youth leaders (who are serving along the shifting sands of an ever-changing world) must be life-long learners. The statement, “This is how we always did it” or “This has always worked for me in the past,” should be retired and exchanged for “Let’s try to put the old wine in some new bottles” or “How can we repackage the gospel for this generation?” Effective youth leaders understand the significance of personal development. Let’s read widely and seek new resources toward a thriving ministry that remains relevant.
I pray that these 10 steps will continue to guide us toward positive youth ministry impacts across the Atlantic Union and beyond.