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Why Youth Ministry Can’t Function Like Little League

A Youth Pastor's Leadership Responsibilities

Historically, youth ministry has had too small of a role in the life of the church. There’s been too small a conceptualization of what a youth ministry is supposed to be. In the past, it has been a pastor in the church who is dedicated to this small segment—they tend to the teenagers, they invest in them, and that’s all they do.

But in reality a youth minister needs to be a leader. They need to be the person who is leading the whole congregation’s efforts in the discipleship and spiritual formation of young people—and that includes parents as well.

It must be an effort between the whole congregation and parents to spiritually invest in the lives of kids.

Statistics suggest that the more a child experiences people who are outside their own generation invested in their spiritual life, the more likely they are going to be a church-attending Christian as an adult. So a youth pastor can’t just be the one lone ranger with a group of a few leaders—they need to help the whole church cast a vision for investing in the next generation of Christians.

A Cooperative Effort

In addition to that, the youth leader needs to be working with the other pastors so that the discipleship of teenagers is a cooperative effort between families and the church. We can no longer allow youth ministry to function in the way that little league or the piano teacher does. People over the last several generations have thought, “Well, I outsource my kid’s athletic development to little league and musical development to the piano teacher, and I outsource their spiritual development to the church.”

Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry

Cameron Cole, Jon Nielson

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 parents are not involved in the spiritual formation of their children, what the church is doing isn’t going to be particularly effective. It must be an effort between the whole congregation and parents to spiritually invest in the lives of kids. That’s the most effective way to form kids who have lasting faith.

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