It’s time to set the annual calendar for the youth ministry. Who do you invite to the meeting- church pastor, volunteers of the ministry, parents? What about the teens within the ministry; did you consider inviting them?
Many have been guilty of believing that the youth of the ministry will not know what they want or need out of the youth ministry. After all, that’s the youth minister’s responsibility, right?
The mindset is that learning the ways of Christ is something that happens to them, not because of them.
Intrinsic Faith Motivation
During the time youth spend within a youth ministry is a time where many teens find a safe space- a place for them to realize their potential, a place to belong, and a place to grow. Being conscientious of the youth’s spiritual needs by asking their input allows them to discover their voice in how they will proceed in their walk with Christ.
Understanding the youth’s intrinsic faith motivation and personal accountability to their Christian growth by asking what they want to do will hold more merit when you obtain their input. It will also instill in them a desire to be a part of the ministry and lead in the church. When the youth want to attend youth group the ministry will grow because they will tell their friends and their friends will see how they are setting an example of how to walk with Christ. Don’t believe me, from God’s mouth to your ears: 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV) “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
WHY DON’T YOU ASK, WHAT DO YOUTH WANT TO DO?
Watching kids play is one of the wonders we adults envy about being a child. It does not matter if they know each other. They just ask, “do you want to play?”, or “do you want to hang out?” And off they go, a relationship and friendship formed on a question asked.
When we ask the youth “What do you want to do?” we know we are setting ourselves up for a lot of movement- on the go, non-stop motion. I feel tired already just thinking about asking. And, there is also some risk in asking this question. They could overestimate their abilities or their plans could fall flat. These things, too, can be exhausting, but this is the youth minister’s role- to guide them in the faith and provide a safety net.
Asking the question “What do you want to do?”, will also provide you with insight into the wonders of how youth see themselves by answering the question, “How do I build a relationship with God?”.
It is their youth group and their spiritual growth after all.
Asking teens what they want to do helps to build relationships in the ministry. Ultimately, we all want to feel that we have purpose and our opinions are valued. By allowing the youth to have input, you are teaching them to be leaders and to be self-accountable to their spiritual growth.
Knowing the why behind what they are doing is going to lead to a relationship with Christ. God wants to have a relationship with his children of all ages. Do you think He does not speak to the youth? “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart…” Jeremiah 1:5a
OPENING UP THE DIALOGUE OF WHAT TO EXPLORE AND LEARN
How do you begin the conversation to know what the youth of the ministry want to do?
Whenever a teen has an idea they could write it down on a piece of paper, throw it in the fishbowl. Gather them together later and have someone read the ideas aloud to the group so that they can vote on their favorite ideas.
Keep track on a whiteboard, sticky notes, etc. of categories of ideas (fun events under $10, fun events over $10, outreach events, Bible study or lesson topics), have the group vote on a certain number of ideas per category, and list the top idea in each category.
Create a gallery walk of 3 to 5 ideas from years past and have the youth provide feedback and lead them through a decision-making process. (This website describes how to hold a gallery walk.)
Learn to listen to youth. You need their input. They are quite intelligent and their opinions of the direction of the ministry will grow the ministry spiritually and in numbers. You are developing ministry leadership, and if they feel ownership over the ministry and are having fun, they are going to tell their friends and invite them to participate in the ministry as well.
Theresa Morris, M.Ed.
Theresa has worked in the field of education for the past 13 years, where she has been the director of a tutoring center, taught grades 1, 5-8, a Curriculum Resource Teacher and Dean of Students. Currently, she is an 8th grade science and a certified instructional coach through the UF Lastinger Center Coaching Academy.
She is also the host of Friends Talking Education
Theresa has a BS in Computer Information Systems from Columbia College, Orlando, and an MS in Educational Technology from Nova Southeastern University and an MS in Educational Leadership from American College of Education. She serves as a Core Competencies Assessor for the Youth Ministry Institute. Theresa enjoys cultivating relationships and igniting a student’s own passion for education.