Over the years youth ministry has become more and more advanced. We now have more research than ever that can show us what is working in youth ministry, what isn’t and where we can improve. We now have a ton of youth ministry experts out there to share the latest and greatest concept, strategy and game. There are a plethora of books and websites dedicated to helping and guiding youth workers. I believe that youth ministry is in a better place because of these things.
With that said, there is another important and longstanding truth about youth ministry: It looks different and works differently in unique contexts and in distinct churches. As a youth worker at a church, you are the person that knows your church, your context, and your students the best. We all know that this position can bring about difficult decisions about what is next for your ministry or what big step you need to take with your students. It may be a new strategy or curriculum or concept.
Looking to the websites or the experts for all of the options can be overwhelming. If we all implemented every suggestion out there our ministries would probably be a jumbled mess with no direction. I think we all know this. My encouragement here is in the midst of making a change or trying something new to remember that you know your group the best. Not every idea is going to work at every church. The big thing driving the youth ministry at the church down the street could flop at yours.
I will always encourage fellow youth workers to read books and articles and to listen to podcasts and go to conferences. I always have big takeaways from these times. At the same time, don’t get lost in all of it without considering what you feel is best for your students and your ministry. That doesn’t mean don’t try something new or don’t push the edge, but rather be prayerful and know that no expert out there knows your students better than you do. God has placed them in your ministry for a reason.
Keep striving and take your students to where you feel God is calling you to take them.
KEVIN CONNORS is the youth pastor at Swift Creek Presbyterian Church in the suburbs of Richmond, Va. He has been in youth ministry for over ten years and has a passion to help young people grow closer to Christ. Outside of ministry he loves hanging with his family, watching sports and dreaming of being a better golfer. Check out his blog at: KEVINCONNORSRVA.COM.