THE VALUE OF YOUTH MINISTRY IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
If your church had the opportunity to invest in a ministry that was almost twice as likely to reach people with the Gospel and create a lasting legacy for years to come, would you do it? You may be surprised to learn that this opportunity is right in front of you in the form of youth ministry. The teenage years are critical for spiritual development. In fact, most Christians in America come to faith before age 18.
Barna Group study indicated that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43 percent), and that two out of three born again Christians (64 percent) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.
But the issue goes beyond accepting Christ. Just as the foundation is key to the stability of a structure, it is even more important to people. Youth ministry in the local church is about more than having loud music or going on trips. Lifelong spiritual habits are being formed and established as youth grow in their personal relationship with Christ and find their place in the church.
Supporting a vital youth ministry will cost your congregation time and money, but the value is significant both now and in the future:
- Biblical Example – God used teens such as David, Mary and Timothy to express His message and carry out His ministry. Why shouldn’t the local church do the same?
- Gospel Investment – Investing in local church youth ministry indicated you are aware that most Americans come to faith early in life and those that come to faith early more often stay committed.
- New Energy – Youth ministry can bring a fresh wind to your congregation. New music, drama and the stories from events and mission trips bring and energy and excitement for the Gospel.
- Discipleship Training – Investing in youth as young leaders and church members teaches the value of a faith family. The opportunity to serve alongside adults is an aspect of discipleship and will prepare them to disciple in due time.
- Outreach to Families – Active youth ministries can be a draw for parents of youth who have become disengaged from the church or have never stepped inside a church building aside from a wedding or funeral. When the church is supporting the teen they love, they are drawn to the faith community.
- Growing Leaders – Healthy churches involve youth while they ARE youth. But these churches also benefit as the youth go on to become Sunday school teachers, deacons, Christian parents and tithing church members. Teens value what is modeled to them and will continue giving to the family of faith that invested in them.
The bottom line is that there is just something more alive about a congregation that loves teenagers and invests time and money in them, even providing a crazy youth room for them. It is often unseen and hard to describe, but it is consistently there. If you spend time with the youth, it is palpable.
I am thankful for so many BCNE congregations who make it a priority to pour into teenagers. If your congregation would like to become more involved with youth ministry in New England, contact the BCNE and make arrangements to participate in an upcoming event.
Allyson Clark is the director of youth leadership development and the co-director of next generation ministries at the Baptist Convention of New England.