It’s spring time, which means that another school year of youth ministry is about to wrap up. For some of us that just means a shift to summer program, and we’re already starting to think about things like camps and mission trips. For others, it may mean a total shut down of our programmed events and we’re already starting to think about slower days and just hanging out with students. Either way, now is a good time to look back and evaluate the “success” of your ministry this school year.
Youth ministry “success” can be measured in different ways. Numbers certainly matter, so we track and measure things like attendance and professions of faith and how many students are signed up to go on the mission trip. But, numbers don’t always tell us the whole story…and without the whole story, it’s hard to truly evaluate if your ministry year was a “success” or not. If we really want to know how we’re doing (and how our ministries are doing with raising the next generation of Jesus followers), we need to ask bigger questions, ones that can’t be measured on a spreadsheet. We need to ask them questions about God and religion to find out what’s really going on in their heads…and what they ultimately believe in their hearts.
So, recently, I asked my students to anonymously respond to ten questions. And, I’m finding that their answers are all over the map. From the typical “Sunday School” answer to answers full of “Christianese.” From answers that reflect a solid, Biblical understanding of what it means to be a Christian to ones that reflect the moral therapeutic deism that is so prevalent among students today. But, at least I know what my students actually believe…and that helps me in two ways. It helps me look back on the school year and evaluate the “success” of our ministry in making disciples. And, it helps me look ahead to the next school year and start thinking about what our students need the most to grow in their faith.
If you want to dig a little deeper into how “successful” your ministry is in raising up the next generation of Jesus followers, you might consider asking them these ten questions:
- What does it mean to be a Christian?
- What do you see as “Christianity” today? How would you describe it?
- What turns unchurched people off from Christianity?
- What turns churched people off from Christianity?
- What is the role of the Christian in the world today? Why are we here?
- What is the role of the Bible in today’s world? What’s its purpose?
- Why do you go to church? What’s the purpose of the church today?
- What do you value the most about your relationship with God? Why?
- Do you believe people are born mostly good or mostly bad? Why?
- When it comes to your relationship with God, what’s more important to you—how you feel about Him or what you know about Him? Why?
Those are my ten. What other questions are you asking your students right now to find out what they believe?
Jason Matthews is a youth pastor in Washington State, where he’s been serving students for over 20 years. When he doesn’t have to be in the office, he loves to be outside with his family, hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest. He also loves to network with other youth workers. You can connect with Jason on Facebook, Twitter @pjmatthews77, and Instagram (@wearethebreak) where he’ll often post on life and youth ministry.