What Do We Do With the Kids?

Youth ministry is often a challenge for churches. You may call it Senior High Ministry, Student Ministry, or Youth Group. It’s an important ministry at a formative time in the lives of young adults in grades 9-12.

Many churches work hard to make Christianity “fun.” They provide a long list of entertainment-related activities: lock-ins, bowling nights, camping trips, amusement parks, beach or pool parties, etc.

There’s nothing wrong with these activities. However, it’s hard for the church to compete with the American world of entertainment. Good news: a new generation is rising and their tribe is more open to formation and service.

Focus on these issues:

  1. What can the church uniquely offer high school students that the world cannot? Answer: discipleship and Christian service.

  2. Recognize that young adults today aren’t as driven (at least for now) by consumerism as many of their parents…and grandparents.

  3. You can mix fun and service, and you should.

  4. Ask young adults and mature, older, Christian adults to pair up. The older adult can serve as a (same-sex) mentor—kind of like Christian Big Brothers/Sisters. Let the older adults disciple/mentor the younger adults as a special friend, Christian guide, discipler.

  5. Ask high school students to teach Sunday school to younger children. Consider this to take the place of Sunday school for these high school students. Why? When you teach, you learn: the Bible and how to be a model to others—an ingredient of discipling.

  6. Connect young adults to the joy of serving the less fortunate: helping the elderly, poor, suffering. Train them (by modeling) how to minister in hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, etc.

  7. Get them on a third-world mission field once a year—to help in any way.

  8. Help them to learn about themselves: spiritual gifts as well as other self-reflective tools.

You might think that service, formation, and some fun is a hard-sell youth ministry. It is, but not for today’s high school students! It’s the older generations who can’t believe it! Think of what this will do for your church and God’s Kingdom in the next 25 years as these young adults, grades 9-12, become the next leaders of the Christian Movement!

What does your church engage and involve high school youth? We welcome your comments below.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

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God Stories Raise Curiosity: Changed People Are Signs And Wonders

Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article, Please comment at the end after reading this article! - Kent

Kent R. HunterMatthew 13:10: The disciples had heard enough parables (stories) from Jesus they got to the inevitable question: “Jesus, why do you tell stories?” In Matthew 13:12, Jesus answers that question: “This is why I tell stories: To create readiness, to nudge people toward receptive insight.”

Jesus had explained to the disciples that they were beginning to “get it.” He could speak to them directly and teach them. But, for those who were non-believers, he told stories. This would help them become more receptive. God stories are a big deal!

In John 11:55, the Jewish Passover was occurring soon. Crowds were traveling to Jerusalem from all over. Verse 56 says, “There was a lot of talk of him (Jesus) among those standing around the temple.” Jesus was the talk of the town!

There is a lesson here: What can we do to increase the chatter about the truths of faith? In Acts 1:8, Jesus calls us to tell stories—our God stories. Nowhere in Scripture does it say everyone should evangelize. It does say there are some people who are evangelists. They should evangelize! They should go out and present the gospel and push toward conviction and response. They should quote Bible passages. They have a spiritual gift for that. However, the masses of Christians are not equipped for evangelism. In Acts 1:8, all Christians are called to be witnesses. We are all eyewitnesses to the miracles of God in our own lives. Anyone who is a Christian for 5 years has dozens of stories. A story like, “I was sick, I prayed. I believe God healed me.” A story like, “I had no direction in life. I met a Christian. She told me about God. I became a God follower. I prayed to ask Jesus into my heart, and for the first time, I felt like I had a divine plan for my life. It changed my life.”

My own son has a great God story, recorded in the book, The J-Dog Journey. The J-Dog Journey: Where is Life? Jon went through college playing football, enjoying a fraternity, and drinking way too much alcohol. He was without direction. God got a hold of him, recaptured his wayward faith, and gave him a whole new career. Now he serves God in full-time ministry, and, in the process, met a wonderful Christian woman who became his wife.

I met someone the other day who told me their God story: “We were married three years, we were financially struggling, we did not know what to do. Finally, out of desperation, we tried going back to church. And somehow, in some way, we made it through. I believe we got through those lean times with God’s help.”

All of these God stories are a great reminder of Jesus strategy – the way the Kingdom grows with greatest impact. Somehow, Christians have turned outreach into a top down lecture. Preaching is fine, but readiness increases when we tell our God stories, when we witness, when we “give our testimony”. (Although I would not recommend using that word around those who are not yet Christ followers—it is not part of their language, yet).

As we tell our stories, our God stories, among people who are not Christians, they are much like the crowds in Jerusalem at Passover. They have high anticipation: “Will Jesus show up?” This concept of witness revolutionizes the church, changing it from an institution into a movement.

Sometimes we fear what people will think, if we start talking about God. This was also an element present in that Passover crowd. In John 12:42, there were secret believers among the leaders of the Jews. But they were afraid of the pharisees.” They were afraid of getting kicked out of the meeting place. In verse 43: “When push came to shove, they cared more for human approval than for God’s glory.” (The Message).

The key lesson is this: Tell your God story. Don’t make it a speech. Don’t even polish it. Don’t speak from your brain, speak from your heart. Be authentic. Be genuine. Give the credit to God, where it belongs. And simply tell your story of what happened to you. The non-believer who listens to you cannot refute what happened to you. There is no argument about what is true. You are simply saying, “This happened to me, as I experienced it.”

Teach a whole church to do this, and you unleash the Christian movement as people share their God stories in their social networks. That is the real mission field of your church: The sum total of all the non-Christians in the social networks of the people. When they know the value of God stories, they are a powerful tool, everyday, in every place, to plant seeds for life with God. When that happens, the church experiences explosive growth. When that happens, among many churches, the nation experiences revival.

Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article. Please comment below! - Kent