Where Youth Ministries Get Off Track


Youth ministry is an exciting place to serve.  Big events, service opportunities, and mission trips can be powerful tools to disciple students and engage teens with the gospel. However, without a clear purpose youth ministry can drift into something it was never intended to be. 

To battle low enthusiasm and dwindling attendance, one clever youth pastor decides to hire a mascot. After all, what brings more excitement than a mascot?

Clearly, this youth pastor missed the mark when he hired the mascot. While he was trying to meet the needs of his group, he failed to operate with a clear purpose. 

Chip Luter calls youth ministers to examine why their youth ministry exists, clarifying a clear purpose and mission. Chip is Pastor of Youth and Young Adults at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, LA. 

Take a moment and read through and reflect on your youth ministry's mission statement. If you don't have one, use the mission statement of your church.

What do you see as the central purpose of your youth ministry?
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How does your vision for the youth ministry fit within the greater context of the mission of your church? How are they complementary?
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Have you ever seen a youth ministry slip into just a place where teens like to hang out? How does having a clearly defined purpose help keep a youth ministry from slipping into a glorified babysitting service?
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Spend some time praying through your youth ministry's mission statement. Does it accurately define the central purpose of your ministry? Does it fit within the context of your church's mission statement? If not, consider speaking with other staff members about what it might mean to clarify the purpose of the youth ministry. If you do not currently have a mission statement, consider what your's might be, and get some feedback from other staff members and your youth ministry volunteers.


In the last video, Chip spoke about the importance of having a clearly defined mission and purpose for your youth ministry. Listen as he explains the importance of developing a strategy around your mission.

As Chip mentioned, there are many really great things you can do as a ministry that don't fulfill your mission at all. How do you typically decide what activities, events, service opportunities, and trips you offer? What role does your ministry's mission play in this process?
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List out each of the major activities/events you have scheduled for your youth ministry over the next year (trips, camps, outreaches, retreats, etc.).
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As you look through the list, can you easily identify how each event fulfills your mission? If not, how might you orient the event(s) to be more purpose oriented?
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Youth ministries play an important role in shaping and developing the faith of students. Having a strategic and mission-focused ministry will curb against any tendency to be just a glorified babysitting service. Seek input from other staff members and lay volunteers in your church as to how you can continue to grow more and more purpose oriented.