In seminary, I learned theology and I learned educational philosophies, but I never actually learned how to teach theology or to run a youth program. Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry by Doug Fields has much practical advice for anybody leading a youth program, no matter how long the leader has been leading it.
Fields’s most important advice is for a youth leader to craft a vision statement. A vision statement will explain why the youth pastor is there, why his church has a youth program, and what the purposes for all the programs within the youth program. I have not yet presented my vision statement to the session as of the writing of this report, but I already know that much conflict will be solved when we know my reasoning for leading the youth at my church. We already have wonderful programs going for the children, and wonderful leadership, but without a vision statement, confusion will continue as the other Sunday School teacher cannot read my mind and has different visions for the youth program.
My church seriously lacks in volunteers. We have amazing kids, but I mostly lead them on my own
when I should use help in classroom control and organization. Fields suggests teaming up with the parents for help in leading the kids. This is very Biblical because God instituted the family to raise children to know him. If kids do not learn about God from their family, they are less likely to learn about him. The youth pastor’s job is to nurture the kids in the faith and church and to equip the parents to teach during the week.
Both Rick Warren and Doug Fields pinpointed five purposes for a church: worship, discipline, fellowship, evangelism, and ministry. According to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, therefore, the church’s chief purpose is to worship God in the company of other believers as they grow together. Thus, I reduced the five purposes to only two. Worship and fellowship are merely the same thing as Christians commune with both God and other saints. Evangelism, discipleship, and ministry are the other one purpose. The different aspects of church are intended to address different purposes of the church. The preacher uses the worship service to lead in worship. The individual members are responsible for evangelism – getting the people in the doors. My job as youth pastor and Christian educator is discipleship, nurturing the children to know the Bible, God, and how to worship him. Ministry happens as a result of the church reaching out to the community, and like a true body, the church’s different parts all work together to meet all the purposes. Not one ministry is responsible for all of them.
Also, since my goal as Christian educator is to nurture the kids into knowledge of God, his Word, and his worship, my goal for any program will be to teach the Bible to the kids. There will be fun events such as movie night, corn maze trip, or talent night, but my main goal is for kids to graduate high school knowing Reformed theology. I will not label different people groups as “crowd,” “congregation,” “committed,” or “core.” To me, they are all sinners saved from wrath by God’s mercy, and they all need the same thing: solid Biblical teaching with no strings attached. I will not rely on any gimmick to get people to come to church as right now, the kids have been faithful in bringing friends and even their parents. I rely on the Holy Spirit and his miracles to grow my youth group.