I have been involved in youth ministry for over fifteen years. During that time I have seen a great deal of success and great deal of failed efforts. But there are two things that I believe are greatest assets and liabilities in youth ministry - that’s right they are both great and at the same time bad as well. These two things are consistency and predictability.
Consistency is some thing that every youth pastor wants. he or she wants the staff to be consistent, the youth services to be consistent, the youth to come consistently and most importantly they want to consistently teach the Word of God. A youth ministry that is not founded on the Word of God is no more than a glorified church day care for teenagers - no matter how you slice it. Of course this is not to say you don’t do other events - concerts, trips, etc - but the foundation must be the Word. Unfortunately sometimes the parents, youth and the staff fight this. So although you want consistency across the board there is sometimes a fight against consistency.
Despite the things that might be said or thrown at us, it is our responsibility as men and women of God, parents and youth ministers to teach the Word of God consistently to the generation coming up. If we fail to do so, we will allow a strain of Christianity to develop that is weak, entertaining and cunning - kind of like the Church of Laodieca (Rev 3:14-22).
We know that the devil is fighting against the consistent teaching of the Word, but we must consistently teach the Word to the next generation. With the things that are coming down the pipeline these days, they will need it.
Predictability is another issue I have noticed in youth ministry. No one wants to be able to predict what is coming next. This I find strange, when you watch a movie and you begin to hear ominous music you know that someone’s life is in danger - predictable. When you watch reality shows on television there are certain times where next move of the person on the screen is predictable. In youth ministry youth will not stay around or engaged if things are predictable.
To some degree we are predictable. We are the church so we will be engaged in things that pertain to living life in the light of God’s glory. When you go to the doctor isn’t he or she predictable - check your weight, blood pressure, maybe take some blood, ask you how you are feeling….that seems pretty predictable doesn’t it?
How do we fight being predictable? One word remix….
Begin to remix some of the things that have worked in youth ministry before. Let’s think about it, most youth ministries begin in junior high and continue through high school. That means from grades 6 through 12 - 7 years. Depending on where the bulk of your kids are you can begin to remix some of those youth ministry ideas every 5 years or so. You will be like the latest hip hop or R&B star.. Did I say that?
Think about it, almost everything our young people listen to musically is a remake of something from ten years ago or more. Why not remix some of your ideas? Also think about sprinkling in some ideas of other youth ministries that have had some success. Remember not everything that works across town will fit exactly into your flow or have the same result. You may have to take an element from across town and add a little flavor of your own to it. Remember boring an idea is legal.
Obviously there are probably some other issues you may face in youth ministry, if so what are they? I never claim to have all the answer or lived through all of the experiences of youth ministry, I am just sharing what I believe are the two root issues in youth ministry.