Investing in Your Youth

BY MARVIN JACOBO

The young people of your church will catch the cell vision and principles sooner than the adults. Experience has taught us that the older the person, the greater their allegiance to program-driven institutions. In contrast, the young generation has no emotional ties to conventions and agendas. The youth will grab new ministry ideas–keep what works–and throw out what doesn’t.

What can you as the youth pastor do to build your cell church through the youth? For starters, consider the idea! Why not? Church history has proven that the Holy Spirit brings revival through young people. They gathered in small groups, praying for themselves, the salvation of lost loved ones and global impact through the Gospel.

Your church of today is your youth of today! Plan your investments for a greater return. As your teenagers grow in Christ with cell life values, they will influence their parents. They will challenge adults, lost and saved, by what God does in their lives. They will launch vision and enthusiasm in the adults.

Light a passion in your youth leaders for the cell life values. Invest in them. Expose them to conferences and mentors to help them build an effective youth cell ministry.

Empower your youth leaders to make the tough decisions in order to thrust your youth ministry into the cell paradigm. Help them implement. This means cutting and reshaping programs to edify the cells. Help them overcome their fear of change.

Protect your youth leaders from pressure and criticism. Don’t allow parents and other adults to intimidate your youth leaders to regress to the ’70’s. Enforce an effective and relavent ministry for the ’90’s! Champion your youth and student leaders in the same way you’d want them to back you up. Confront and uproot any discouragement within the ranks.

Pray with your youth leaders constantly and consistently. Give them plenty of opportunities to pray with you personally. Your leaders need to hear your heart for God. In doing this, the Holy Spirit will implant your passion and zeal into them.

Discern and hire the called. Volunteers will quit. You need leaders who own or are able to adopt the cell life values. Don’t settle just to fill a position. Pray hard and search for the called of God to work with the youth, whether they be an adult or a teen. Pursue them, and they will commit to you for the long haul.

Mentor your youth leaders. You must personally invest in their lives. Don’t neglect contributing to their calling by your excuses or lack of time. Your relationship with your leaders is vital to the edification of the youth cell ministry.

Model healthy living for your youth leaders. If you work 80 hours a week, they will. If you take care of your family, they will. If you are faithful to your Sabbath rest, they will be too. Your influence will trickle down to the health of the cells by reflecting the health of the leaders.

Learn your senior pastor’s heart. Know his dreams and desires for the church. Do you understand his deepest ministry concerns? Are you communicating your own ministry values to him? Are you in sync?

Transitioning a program-driven church can also take its toll on the relationship between the youth pastor and the senior pastor. Satan uses poor communication, lack of trust and questioning of motives to undermine the leadership team of any church.

Godly submission will challenge you to align your vision with that of your pastor’s. Your calling is to be his under-shepherd, caring for the adolescent lambs. There is no place for hidden agendas, undisclosed dreams or selfish goals. Pray for your senior pastor daily, supporting him 100%.

Keep the big picture in perspective and avoid tunnel vision. Don’t become prideful, possessive or territorial. Work toward an “our ministry” mentality with servanthood and a team approach. Success in youth ministry is longevity.

Transforming a church takes a minimum of five years. You must give your people time. Each person has their own process of understanding. Most people in your ministry are not rebellious and disobedient, they just don’t understand. Be patient with them. Keep loving them and praying for them. Learn how to articulate the pastor’s vision for the church. Vision only has worth if you can communicate it.

If you want to build an effective cell church through your youth ministry, you must empower the church. Coach, equip and release your adult and student leadership to live out their calling. We must remember that the church is the Body of Christ working together. Every person is a minister. Every student is a shepherd.

Marvin Jacobo has over 20 years of youth ministry experience at First Baptist Church in Modesto, CA, achieving over 33 student-led cells and 250 teens. He and his wife, Cheryl, have been married for 18 years and have two daughters.

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