Key Relationships to Nurture in Your Youth Ministry
by John Park, UYWI
The relational component of youth ministry should never be overlooked. The fact is with programs, calendaring, preparing for teaching and activity planning the thing that gets lost are the deep relationships built to help point people to Christ and those that point us to Jesus as well. So here are 5 key relationships to nurture in your youth ministry.
Students – OBVIOUS, right? But the fact is with being bi-vocational, busy schedules and tending to other responsibilities, getting to know students can be challenging. I mean it’s not like youth always make it easy, right? I’ve been met with a blank stare by plenty a high schooler in response to ‘What did you do this week?’ The key is making space to meet with kids. Once students know you genuinely care about them individually, will you have earned the right to speak into their lives from a place of Christ-centered love. If we become too engrossed with running programs and activities, we miss the opportunities to minister the Gospel of Christ into the direct situations young people are facing. Getting to know students allows you and I to engage young people not just from the pulpit, but in real active dialog. Try meeting separately with each grade in your youth ministry at least once during the school year to get to know students on a small scale.
Parents – Yes… Meet the Parents. Meeting and knowing parents is just as significant as meeting and knowing students. In your context, you may not see parents often. I know I didn’t, because many of them were working late or not available for the kids. Regardless, it’s important to meet parents to let them know who you are and your heart to reach their kids with the Gospel. If you can’t meet every parent then at least connect with those that are available for now. Trust me, parents want to work with you. And you know what they say about the power of a praying mom!
Volunteers – Volunteers are those in the struggle with you. To build a strong team, you have to connect with them. Make the effort to get to know your volunteers. It’s true everyone is busy, so try having a volunteers meeting before your weekly youth meeting or once a month outside of the church setting where you can encourage them, offer some training, take their feedback and inform them of what’s happening with the youth ministry.
Senior Pastor – Church based youth ministry should reflect the vision of the larger church. Some times with different challenges like language and cultural barriers, youth groups can feel like a separate entity from the larger church. This is the responsibility of us, the youth workers, to listen to the vision of the church from the Senior pastor. Then we can figure out how youth ministry fits into that greater vision. I know, some times senior leaders may not have a clear idea of how to fit youth into the greater vision but that why this relationship is so important, if anything we can nurture and help bring that vision to life.
Other youth pastors/workers – Loneliness and isolation are some of the biggest pitfalls in ministry. We can often feel like we are misunderstood or there are problems only our ministry is facing. The kingdom is bigger than your church and your youth ministry. By reaching out to get to know another youth worker we get the opportunity to do 4 things.
- Fellowship with another member in the body of Christ
- Learn from someone else and what they are doing.
- Teach someone what is working for you and what has brought great impact.
- See what God might have us do as co-laborers in God’s Kingdom to do more than any of us could do on our own.
So take a look at the different relationships you have in your youth ministry. If any of them are in need of nurturing, tend to them and see what fruit God will bear.