What if we made youth ministry’s goal simpler?

“What’s the goal of your youth ministry? Not like your purpose statement, but why do you do this thing?”

I love to ask this question. It usually takes people a few minutes to articulate something they feel comfortable with. And it always sparks a great conversation.

The answer to that question typically lands like this, “My goal is to create an environment where students grow in their relationship with Jesus.” And when we’re really honest a functional goal is, “Keep enough people engaged in my ministry so that my church thinks I’m doing a good job with that.” (In 2009 – 2010, the real honest answer was, “Whatever I have to do to keep my job.”)

A question I’ve been wondering the past couple of years is this…

What if we made the goal of youth ministry simpler? What if the goal of youth ministry became Christian worldview formation? How would that change the way I did youth ministry?





4 responses to “What if we made youth ministry’s goal simpler?”

  1. Gavin Richardson Avatar
    Gavin Richardson

    Is that a simpler goal? How bout to love & be present with the people they are in a room with. Then build from that.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Because that question doesn’t imply the requirement of a central meeting place 98% of the students in our communities have opted out of. 

  2. Aaron Avatar

    I both love and cringe at the question.  

    Why I cringe: Jesus said to make disciples.  The goal of any authentic ministry has already been laid before us by Christ.  If we aren’t making disciples, we exist for irrelevant purposes.

    Why I love: A lot of resources and time is consumed doing things, entertaining minds, and even sometimes engaging hearts…without actually making disciples.  Cutting out unessential programing may allow a primary youth leader to instead focus on how to make disciples.  Programing isn’t necessarily bad, but sometimes that tool seems to have become the goal.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Here’s what we know. There aren’t enough resources for a “youth minister” to disciple a statistically, theologically appropriate number of adolescents in our community. 

      So the first problem of youth ministry is a misplaced use of resource. We can’t be the hub of a wheel. We have to decentralize ourselves, offer a program as part of the solution, but understand that until we release discipleship to adults who have contact naturally with adolescents in our community… we’ll not go anywhere. 

      It really is a denial of the priesthood mentality. We have to reject it. And we have to be serious about empowering others to do it… even if that means stepping aside and giving up “power.” 

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