Friday, May 30, 2008

Should Student Ministry Be About the Students?

What do you think? Is ministry about the person you are ministering to? Should the student ministers focus be on the students?

Lifeway has discovered what youth pastors have known for awhile; we don't keep students after they graduate high school. The statistic being thrown around now is 70% of students will not stay in church. How do we fix that? The Lifeway solution is their new program: Know, Own, Known.

On the back of a promotional pamphlet for the product I found this statement:

"By focusing on students and helping them become all God wants them to be, student ministry leaders, coming alongside of parents, can help students know God, own their faith, and make their faith known"

So, what do you think? Good idea? Great idea? Not so good of an idea? I plan to discuss this (as well as start talking more about student ministry) on Monday.


  1. Student ministry is difficult and I know from seven years of experience. The problem I see with today's youth ministry is deep. First, most youth pastors I have known need to truly examine themselves to see if they are even in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Second, youth pastors need to be disciples of Jesus and this means disciplined in their faith. Do they pray? Do they spend much time in the Word? Do they evangelise? Do they live their faith (James 2:14-26)? Third, youth pastors need to preach the Law of God to the students and quit avoiding sin (Romans 3:19; 7:7,14; Gal. 3:13-29; 1 Timothy 1:8-10). The Law brings room for grace that leads to holiness (Titus 2:11-12). Fourth, teach the youth to be disciples (Matthew 29:19-20) and encourage them to imitate our faithfulness to Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). Too few youth pastors can say "follow my example" (Hebrews 13:17). And lastly, get teens in the Word for the Word can keep them (James 1:21-22) and without abiding in the Word we can't be true disciples of Jesus (John 8:31-32).

    Sadly, youth ministry has become teens baby sitting and not biblical discipleship.

  2. Amen, amen, and amen. I agree with much of your assessment. Would it be fair then to summarize that you believe the student ministers focus should be on God instead of the students? How would you specifically answer the questions in this post. I really appreciate your comments...I am asking the specifics b/c I want to hear more. Thanks again for stopping by!

  3. Hey Mike,

    I came across your blog via a search for "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment". I hope you don't mind me poking in here for a moment.

    I’m not sure I can give any constructive thoughts here, but I’ll put in what came to mind. I appreciate that the statement you’ve quoted puts youth ministry as serving parents. I think this is a direction to follow in thinking of how to practically aim youth ministry. The issue should be broadened to incorporate their family. What is their family doing every day of the week to stir faith and love for the Savior? How do their father’s train them in the ways of the Lord? Is the family loving? Etc. etc.

    You are asking about examples. I don’t think my church is perfect, but I think when it comes to youth ministry, we’ve got some good stuff going. So, for example, at my church, our youth meet twice a month, where the parents are asked to stay during the meeting. They also meet once a month (I believe) in small groups where parents are involved in dealing with issues and working through life with their teens. The parents are involved with material focused on the teens because our church understands that this is a family issue, not just a teen issue.

    Anyhow, I could say more here, but I’ll stop since I’m a complete stranger. Though, since you’re reading the Puritans, I feel like we already know each other.

    For the supremacy of Christ,

  4. Wow, I really appreciate these posts, especially the ideas Mr. Jacob Young presents.
    I haven't been blessed with any experience leading youth ministry, but let me just say what you're getting at Mike:
    Ministry is about serving people for God's glory. The focus, then, is God and His gospel, not people. God's glory is the Why? The What? The How? and The Who? Really, the place that people fit into the mix is when we ask, Will you come and worship, too? Once they're worshiping, it's teaching them how to live daily basking in the beauty of God's glory, striving to enter His rest, as the author of Hebrews said (Heb. 4:11). How we love people is by being with them through the junk (sin & suffering) they undergo, all the while gently and firmly pointing to the Lord who holds us up through the same. Granted, it's much messier than that, but I think that's the basic idea of ministering the gospel, no matter the age group.
    I look forward to the forthcoming discussion on student ministry.

    Piper preached a sermon over 1 Tim. 4:12 regarding youth ministry, and I commend it to you.

  5. Jacob,

    Feel free to comment away...all are welcome. And I would love to talk with you more sometime...feel free to e-mail me anytime. Would you say that your church follows the model proposed here, as "coming alongside parents"?


    Would it be safe to say then that you disagree with the promotional? Perhaps, you would say that it gets it right in regards to acknowledging parents but seems to miss the boat on the big picture?

    And thanks for suggesting the Piper sermon on 1 Timothy. I shall listen to it soon.

  6. Mike,

    Sorry to be late in getting back with you. I'm not to quick to say that my church pracices "coming along side parents" as the statement you've quoted indicates because their proposition is in relation to "help [students] become all God wants them to be," which is evasively ambiguous to me. What does God want the students to become? Well, whatever the proponents of this product think it is, that's what their telling youth ministers to come along side parents in aiming at. Since I'm unsure what they mean by the phrase, I can't say whether we do that or not.

    My inclination is to say we don't because the phrase tastes of more "victory living" Christianity, rather than deep rooted, consistent, discipleship that's aimed at a whole life for God.

    But, I could be wrong in my interpretation of the phrase since the whole volume of my exposure to it is limited to your quote. But, in general, the direction of our youth ministry at my church is aimed at helping sinful youth's see their need for Christ, and to have a better grasp, love, and enjoyment of the attributes of God. However, I do see my church doing the "coming along side parents" well, and in a pastoral, holistic view and care. You can get a better picture of our understanding of youth ministry here:



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