In the last post I identified a radical dependency on God’s sovereignty and his promises as a key foundation for successful youth ministry. Apart from the sovereign work of God’ grace replacing hearts of stone with hearts of flesh, our youth ministry will ultimately fail. Given this, it is vitally important that we submit our plan for youth ministry to God’s plan for youth ministry. Since only God brings the growth (1 Cor 3), our goal in youth ministry must be to do the planting and watering work in the way that he has appointed. Put another way, we must look to the Bible to provide more than simply the content of youth ministry, but also to provide the direction for how we are to do youth ministry. True, the Bible does not give specific instructions regarding the types of programs that churches should have for youth ministry, but it would be a serious mistake to think that the Bible does not address how youth ministry should be done. It does not provide all of the particulars, but it does give us core foundations to build upon.
What are these core foundations? I believe the model of youth ministry that the Bible lays out for us to follow involves two key components: (1) Faithful nurture in the home by parents, and (2) Multi-generational discipleship in the church. As I will demonstrate in upcoming posts, these are the two pillars which undergird a biblically based ministry to youth. Put another way, biblically based youth ministry is first Family-Based and second Church-based. In my opinion, it is the removal of one or both of these pillars that has created the current crisis in contemporary youth ministry. The problem with much of contemporary youth ministry is not that it is not well -intentioned, but that it has undermined or ignored these God-given foundations. Parents either turn their child’s spiritual well-being over to the “youth-pastor” (thus ignoring the first pillar), or a church allows a separate youth culture to exist alongside the rest of the congregation (thus ignoring the second).
To sum up: there is a lot of room to operate in youth ministry, but we must operate on the foundations that God has provided. If we jump off of God's foundations in an attempt to be more "relevant," it can only result in long term harm for our youth. In the next post I will take a closer look at the first foundation of youth ministry: Faithful nurture in the home.