Building a Lasting Faith
If you do gospel-centered youth ministry, you are a foundation builder. Building the foundation of a building takes time.
There is a temptation to do youth ministry that’s attractional, entertainment driven, and that just gets kids in the door until you feel some sense of affirmation. There’s also a temptation to base your youth ministry on behavior modification. If you can get a kid to sign a virginity pledge, or get a kid to wear a bracelet, or get a kid to carry a Bible to school, then you’re being successful—but that’s not making disciples. That’s not forming a kid who has lasting faith.
A youth pastor has to see himself as someone who is building a foundation—almost like the junior varsity coach.
That being said, all Christians know that Christian maturity is something that comes over time. It comes through years of learning God’s Word, living in relationship with Christ, and being discipled by mentors who help you understand what it truly means to help you know Christ.
We’re not playing for eighteen, we’re playing for twenty-eight, and thirty-eight, and forty-eight, and sixty-eight, and seventy eight—we want to form a kid who has a lasting faith such that they will remain faithful when their faith is challenged by suffering and different things in their life. And we want them to have vision for the kingdom and a fruitful life of ministry no matter what they do for the rest of their life. And that’s not something that happens overnight.
Build the Foundation, Then Trust
A youth pastor has to see himself as someone who is building a foundation—almost like the junior varsity coach, in the sense that they are teaching kids the fundamentals to get them ready for their senior year when they’re going to be a starter. It’s not the most glorious role, but in terms of really loving the kids and having an interest in the broader church and kingdom, that’s the mentality that needs to be adopted.
This comprehensive handbook looks at every facet of youth ministry from a gospel-centered perspective, offering practical advice related to everything from planning short-term mission trips to interacting with parents to cultivating healthy relationships.
If you’re a youth pastor, most of your kids are going to leave your congregation when they’re nineteen years old to join the working world or go to college. To a youth pastor who is feeling discouraged, your reward is in heaven where you’ll see in glory the things that Jesus has done through your ministry, you’ll see the fruit of your labor. You’re probably not going to see the impact of your work when that student is forty-eight years old and they’re doing things for the kingdom. You may not see how the things you taught them are enabling them to have hope and comfort in a season of suffering—but you’ll see on the other side.
Historically, churches have had a false paradigm for what youth ministry should look like. It's far more than getting kids in the door and keeping them out of trouble.
Many youth pastors are young, but they still have valuable insights on teenagers that can be of great help to parents.
We need missionaries and evangelists out there reaching teenagers and sharing the gospel with them.