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It’s time to end the 'insanity' of typical youth ministry

Teenagers, church, Gen Z
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Someone once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.“

This is true in life. This is true in youth ministry.

For the last 50 years, youth ministry has pretty much stayed the same. We do the same kinds of meetings we’ve always done (midweek, Sunday morning, etc) and do the same kinds of things in those meetings (play games, sing songs, give announcements, teach a lesson, eat snacks, etc.) In addition to these same-old weekly meetings, we do the same kinds of annual events (winter retreats, summer camps, and special events) where the same types of things happen.

We do the same thing over and over again, week after week, month after month, year after year…and expect different results.

But, for the most part, the results are the same…and extremely disheartening.

According to one massive research project from greatopportunity.org, we are losing 1 million Christian teenagers per year, and will continue to do so for the next 35 years, if something doesn’t drastically change. These teenagers aren’t just leaving their churches. They are leaving their faith completely.

To keep doing what we are doing is insanity. Something must radically change.

So what’s the solution? Is it to dump the whole concept of youth ministry? No! No! No! We will never reach the next generation if we stop focusing on reaching and discipling Gen Z.

It’s not time to stop doing youth ministry.

It’s time to stop doing it the WAY we are currently doing it. It’s time to do what Jesus did to reach, train, and mobilize his mostly teenaged disciples.

  • He prayed with unparalleled wisdom on who to focus on (Mark 3:13)
  • He invested in the few and mobilized them for mission (Mark 3:14)
  • He trained them along the way (Luke 10: 1-20Luke 11:1-13)
  • He offered salvation as a free gift to everyone but required 100% commitment to be a part of his leadership team (Luke 14:15-35)
  • He had a strategy of disciple multiplication that is as relevant now as ever (Matthew 28:18-20)

…and so much more!

What if we let the “youth ministry” philosophy of Jesus drive our youth ministry model? What if we focused on building a strong leadership team (aka “the disciples”) who were all in to lead the way for spiritual growth and Gospel Advancement for the other teens in our youth groups? What if we stopped catering to the apathetic kids to try to get them to like us and enjoy youth group and started really making and multiplying disciples?

Sound unrealistic?

Tell that to Doug Henry, a full-time law enforcement officer in Missouri who doubles as a youth leader. He has built his youth ministry on these principles. God is using him and his on-fire-for-Christ teenagers to shake his town for Jesus.

Tell that to Jerrod Gunter, a youth leader in inner city Memphis, who has implemented these principles and kicked off a city-wide (and growing nationwide) ministry called Riotstarters, whose goal is to change the way youth ministry is done in the inner city and mobilize urban teens for what he calls “a Gospel solution” to the problems these teens uniquely face.

Tell that to Morgan Marshall, who leads Storyline church’s youth ministry in my home town of Arvada, Colorado. She and her team have a vision of being used by God to help reach every single one of the 14,000 teenagers in Arvada with the Gospel. Morgan knows that to do this a Gospel Advancing network of youth leaders must be built so that youth groups can work together to see “every teen everywhere” in Arvada hear the Gospel from a friend.

Tell that to Don Olding, a Continent shaking South African ministry leader who has launched these principles in countless youth ministries across 12 African countries through his amazing ministry Go-Live-Dare . His mission is to see every teen everywhere in Africa hear the Gospel from a friend. The movement has so much momentum in Africa that he and his family are moving to Italy in 4 days to work with Stefano Longo to expand it all across Europe.

Talk to any one of the 10,000 youth leaders worldwide who have decided to, by God’s grace, stop the insanity of typical youth ministry and, instead, start a revolution in youth ministry!

What does it look like? How do you get started? Click here.

It is time to stop doing the same things again and again and expecting different results.

It’s time for a new philosophy of youth ministry (that’s actually 2,000 years old!)

For a deeper dive on this philosophy download my free book Gospelize your Youth Ministry and read it!

Greg Stier is the Founder and President of Dare 2 Share Ministries International. He has impacted the lives of tens of thousands of Christian teenagers through Dare 2 Share events, motivating and mobilizing them to reach their generation for Christ. He is the author of eleven books and numerous resources, including Dare 2 Share: A Field Guide for Sharing Your Faith. For more information on Dare 2 Share and their upcoming conference tour and training resources, please visit www.dare2share.org.

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