Moving from Programming to Pastoring
I’m starting to reach the conclusion that youth ministry programming is dead. Continuing to do youth ministry the way we have always done it while being online right now is a fad, and it will quickly come to an end.
Students engage in youth group for relationships with peers, adult volunteers, and us. So, what now?
Most of what we have done in youth ministry has been based on programming. Great games, sharp graphics, solid band, fun retreats, awesome camps, and good small groups. If none of this works anymore, we must focus on ministering.
Take off your programming hat and put on your pastoring hat.
This is the time to move our youth ministries to focus on caring for people’s spiritual and physical needs. The hardest part of this switch will be taking the focus off us and putting it on others. No longer will we receive positive feedback for great talks, worship, or awesome games. Now our reward is seeing others move forward in maturity in Christ.
So how do we make the switch?
Start with “who?”
We should focus our ministries on parents, students, and adult volunteers. These are the folks who we are called to serve in our churches.
Next move to “what do they need?”
Ministry is about meeting needs, both spiritual and physical.
Meeting physical needs
Let’s start by thinking about how we can meet physical needs.
Take out a piece of paper and write down the names of 10 people—a mix of students, parents, and adult volunteers. Make two columns and put their name in the first column. In the second column, write out their greatest need. Maybe help with an outside chore, maybe make them a meal that you bring to their house, or maybe they need someone to run errands for them.
Meeting spiritual needs
Now let’s talk spiritual needs.
When we think about pastoring let’s help people reach spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is the ability of a Christ-follower to read God’s Word and be convicted by the Holy Spirit regarding the truth it contains. It’s a disciple’s willingness to turn to God, confess sin, and seek repentance. Spiritually mature disciples apply the truth of God’s Word by changing their thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes. They are like the man who builds his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24–27).
A great way to do this is to teach Bible study methods. These methods give people a framework or structure to study God’s word. It will help them find truth, conviction, and application. Here is a good resource to help you get your folks started in Bible study methods.
We must also teach people how to pray. Most people pray like they think Jesus is a genie who grants wishes. It’s important to remember that adoration is telling God who he is, and this requires us to know him. Confession is telling God we are not like him—we are sinners and need his forgiveness. Thanksgiving doesn’t come from the stuff we get but from the new life we receive in his Son. After we have adored, confessed, and been thankful, now we are in the right frame of heart to ask him for our needs. Prayer was created by God to transform us, not to make us into greedy children. Here is a prayer resource you can use to help you teach others how to pray.
Now is a challenging time. Sickness and fear surround us. Fellow ministers, we need to move from programming to pastoring so the hurting souls of our generation may be healed by the power of the gospel.
About the Author
Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners who never leave their side. Doug grew up in… Read More