When Youth Ministry Becomes Tradition…

What is the purpose for having a youth ministry in the church? Why do churches have youth ministry?

When the church ceases to place priority on reaching young people for Christ as opposed to making sure the youth ministry in the church exists and doesn’t fall flat, when having young people in the actual ministry, it ceases to become a ministry but a tradition. A tradition of maintaining numbers in a program that is listed on the church’s organogram.

When something becomes part of “what we’ve always done here at this church” as opposed to asking the question, “what is the purpose of this particular ministry or practice?” it makes a bold statement that we’d rather have something for the sake of having something. It makes answering the questions of “why” uncomfortable and wanting to avoid instead of answering, “is there a need for this?” Too often the means becomes the purpose, and youth ministry has taken this route, where it has become a purpose instead of a means to reach young people for Christ.

Now I would want to believe that there will always be a need for youth ministry, therefore we would always see the need for youth ministry and have it in our church as part of who it is and not of what it does.

Why churches should always have a youth ministry:

  1. The Bible says so
    • When Jesus said we are to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19), he wasn’t just referring to adults. Yes, children were not seen in the light as they are today, considering the patriarchal society of the Bible, but they are part of humanity that Jesus died for. When witnessing about Jesus Christ to the nations, we should include the youth.
  2. The world is young
  3. The youth is the church of now
    • As clichéd as it might be, we need to remind ourselves again and again that our youth is important now! Not tomorrow! Now! We need to put our resources, our time, our prayers, our support behind our youth. They are not an investment where we hoping for some good return in a few years. Youth matter and they matter now like the present church because they are the present church. By saying they’re the church of tomorrow is telling them that they do not matter right now, that their youth is frowned upon. This goes against the very verse that Paul told Timothy, “don’t let anyone look down on you because of you are young” (1 Tim 4:12).
  4. Economically – they are the influx of finance
    • While this may not sound very spiritual, but where the youth are the money is. If youth attend your church, you can almost be assured their parents will follow and so will their finances. When youth graduate, hopefully they will be following in the footsteps of Christ as personal saviour, but also that they would not leave the church. By not leaving the church, neither would their resources. If you looking for a sure way to cripple the church, then ignore the youth. Treat them as unimportant, as a minority and make the way wide open for them to leave at the end of their schooling years to seek purposes elsewhere.
  5. By ministering to youth, we shape society
    • If you want to know what our society will look like in the years to come, then don’t look at our current political leaders. While they may make policies today to govern tomorrow, they are not what will shape society. It is our youth that will shape society. Have a look at our history, it has always been our youth that has shaped South Africa. Have a look at our youth today to see what our society will look like tomorrow.

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So, why have youth ministry? You tell me…