The State of Youth Ministry

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“The State of Youth Ministry” by Barna is a 126 page report released at the National Youth Workers Convention in November 2016 (NYWC: Cincinnati).  This important research was commissioned by Youth Specialties and YouthWorks and is designed to give youth workers and church leaders insight into these questions; What’s going on in youth group? And is it working?

The State of Youth Ministry contains the findings of three nationwide studies among youth pastors, senior pastors and parents of teens.  Barna discovered:

  • What parents are looking for in a church youth program
  • How youth leaders and senior pastors define the purpose an priorities of youth ministry
  • The specific activities, events and learning opportunities that churches off to teens
  • What leaders say are the biggest challenges facing effective youth ministry today
  • And much more

Over the past 50 or so years, a program focused specifically on teens has become a standard part of nearly every church’s ministry. But from church to church. these programs are anything but standard. Every leader has his or her own goals, priorities, skills and strategies, and it’s not always clear what works and what doesn’t – or even what we mean by “works”. Just what, exactly, is youth ministry for, and how do churches measure success?

Each leader is an individual serving a unique community of faith in a specific neighborhood. But data on national trends in youth ministry can be a useful tool for wise decision – making and planning for the future. The State of Youth Ministry can help pastors and parents understand each other’s hopes and expectations, in order to work better together making young disciples who follow the way of Jesus.

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