I love to get together with other student pastor’s to discuss student ministry. Some people can discuss sports for hours, and I can discuss student ministry for hours. Okay, I can discuss sports for hours as well. We get together to discuss problems, strategies, ideas, and vision, and what we need to remind ourselves so often is that all of the answers to these questions should reflect our purpose. Your strategy cannot change a person’s life, but if your purpose is right, it can change their life! Now, strategies are important, and we would be foolish to think that they aren’t, but in planning your strategy, make sure that your purpose is at the core of what you do. The purpose is really the “why we do what we do” of student ministry. It is the core of our student ministry. It should be reflected in everything that we do. So, what is our purpose in student ministry?

  1. To share the Gospel of Jesus– This is the #1 purpose of our student ministry. The Gospel is the “good news” of Jesus. It is that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to come and die for you and I. He demonstrated grace and mercy for us, and through faith in that, we can be saved! Look, your website, facebook page, twitter account, or program will not change a person’s life. The Gospel is the only thing that can transform a person’s life. Now, I am not against those things, because our student ministry has all of them, but keep the main thing the main thing! We try to do events throughout the year specifically designed to reach new students. We also try to incorporate the Gospel into every student service that we have as well so that students can be given a chance to accept the Gospel. The Gospel is the main purpose of our student ministry!
  2. To disciple students– Many groups have the Gospel down, but forget to disciple the saved! This is where teaching comes into play. It is our responsibility to teach students the Bible, and teach them how to live. By the way, the best way of teaching is to model it yourself. There are many different ways to disciple students. We have found that the best way is through small group ministry. We have small groups each Wednesday evening, and it works for us. It may not for you. We get into their lives. We ask them about their relationship with Jesus, and them living out their faith. We provide resources to help them grow in their relationship with Jesus.
  3. Partner with parents– This purpose is a purpose that we all discuss and want to do better on, but how can we do that? Well, if you find out how, let me know, because I really want to know. 🙂 Well, actually, we can do better. I am starting meetings more designed for training than information. Normally, my meetings with parents are solely for information, and now, I am working on training the parents about students and their culture. The information needs to be there as well, but do not forget how important it is to train and disciple your parents.
  4. To train youth leaders– I am learning that I train parents and youth leaders as much as I do the students. My goal and desire is to train the leaders and the parents to be doing what they all want me to be doing in every student!
  5. To help students develop community in church– God intended for the church to be a community of believers. The early church (Acts 2) broke bread and had fellowship in each other’s house. I desire for our students to build healthy relationships within the church. I am not saying that they cut themselves off from the world, but they should be developing genuine friendships and relationships in the church.
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5 thoughts on “5 Important Purposes of Student Ministry

  1. Josh,
    Great list and reminder of our purpose of youth ministry. I really appreciate your take on training parents and adult leaders to “be doing what they all want me to be doing in every student.” I think this is key to multiplying our ministry effectively!

    My only other thought would be the idea of service and discovering our lives and spiritual lives are not meant just for us, but for the world around us in which we live. We were created to serve and love others. This idea of service could easily be put into #2 and/or #5, but at the same time I think deserves a seperate point say #6.

    Great post!

    Your thoughts on this?

    Thanks,
    Phil

    1. I was so close at putting a purpose about developing their spiritual gifts. This is very important to us. We want them to develop these gifts for service to the Lord. We are involved in programs that they compete with churches all across the states with preaching, praise band, vocals, instrumentals, dramas, etc. It is all teaching them to use their gifts in the local church. We also do a student led service once every two months for students to run the entire service and get the training of leading and serving.

      Great thoughts Phil.

  2. Thank you for the post. I have an interview for a youth ministry position tonight and I will definitely be using some of these ideas in my answers to the committee. You have a great way of articulating what many of us are thinking.

  3. Josh,
    I like the article and would encourage you to continue to look for new ways to do the same thing. I noticed in your article you mentioned wanting to do better, I have found in the last 12 years of youth that if you don’t have that desire then the ministry suffers. I was encouraged by your attitude that comes through in your writing. I also would like to comment on another way to connect with the parents. I have found that meeting with one family at a time, I try to meet with a different family each week, allows me to get to know them personally better and this earns me the right to speak candidly with them about their students. I also then have formed a small group time that travels to each students house on a rotation. This gets the parents involved with their kids and their kids friends and also brings them in to the teaching side as I have found they almost can’t help joining in. This aspect of my ministry has allowed me the right to truly speak to parents about issues with their students and team together to accomplish growth. I also would say that in the information gathering stage take note of what the parents goal is for the student cause we are to, as you state it partner with them not become the parent to the student. God Bless

    Chris Whited

  4. Josh, I have previously been involved in youth ministry, and therefore appreciate all you’ve said. In the 90s I ran a ‘Wild Life’ group (13 to 16 year olds) in my church. About a third of the group were the kids of pastors and church leaders, so it was challenging – I’m sure you know what I mean! Those kids wanted a lot more than ‘pat answers’. The topic that really fascinated them was what was later to become the title of my book ‘Knowing Me Knowing You’, written with young people in mind. Many of these kids had grown up in the church, but had no clear sense of personal identity. We did a questionnaire together to help them determine their God-given natural gifts, and then discussed our findings. This was an eye-opener for them and a valuable tool for me. Some have got back to me since to tell me how this experience became a useful stepping-stone in their coming to a first-hand relationship with God, and in preparing them for their future.

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