Youth Ministry at PGF
Our objective at Parkdale Grace Fellowship is to maximize the effectiveness of our church’s ministry to our youth (whom we choose to describe as our young adults). In order to do this our pattern for ministry should be solidly based upon the teaching and example of scripture, not based upon the traditions or philosophy of the world. Below are six patterns we see in Scripture which will set the course for our ministry to our young adults at PGF.
#1– The Fathers Lead
#2– It Begins at Home
#3– They are Young Adults
#5– Equip for Ministry
#6– Challenge to Discipleship
Biblical Pattern #1– The Fathers Lead God has given Parents (especially Dads) the primary role in evangelizing and discipling their children. (Deut. 6:6-7; Psalm 78; Proverbs 4; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21)
- Studies and anecdotal experience have proven that even the best youth pastors can’t outperform Mom & Dad’s spiritual influence in the lives of their teens.
- Therefore, to maximize the effectiveness of our ministry to our young adults we must focus on maximizing the role of the parents in the lives of their children of all ages.
- Emphasize this message from the pulpit regularly.
- Train and equip dads in men’s fellowships and small groups.
- Provide useful resources to the parents.
- Promote family integrated worship and ministry so that we are not separating youth from their parents at times when the parents can model spiritual life.
- Whenever possible encourage the participation of fathers with sons and mothers with daughters in ministry events.
- Encourage mature, experienced parents to come alongside younger parents to encourage.
Biblical Pattern #2– It Begins at Home The home, not church programs, is the primary place where spiritual teaching and training should take place. (Same as #1 above, Deut. 6:6-7; Psalm 78; Proverbs 4; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21)
- Studies have proven that regardless of what is taught in the church programs, the majority of young adults will tend to follow the pattern of what is taught and modeled in the home.
- Of the 20% of young adults who do not abandon the church and their faith, the common denominator among most of them is that their parents are godly role models who lead in family worship at home and who live and teach the faith in everyday life. (Whether or not they attended a youth group seems to be a neutral factor in their spiritual success.)
- Jesus however took a group of peers (young adults?) and mentored them outside of the home.
- Therefore, to maximize the effectiveness of our ministry to our young adults we must focus on making the home the primary place where the training takes place at all ages.
- Emphasize this pattern from the pulpit.
- This training in the home should begin with parents when their children are very young so that it is a natural transition to continue mentoring their young adults.
- Model this through gathering families into small groups in homes led by an experienced couple who can model leading the family in prayer and Bible study and give other dads the opportunity to learn to lead a group study.
- Rather than parents dropping their kids off at the church for the church to train and teach them, the church’s priority needs to be on training the parents so that they can teach and disciple their children and young adults.
- Promote and put into the hands of our parents tools and resources that help them implement this principle, such as “Family Shepherds” and “Gathering the Family”, etc.
- Encourage parents to gather the families of their kid’s peers together for fellowship, Bible studies, outings, outreaches, etc. rather than depending on organized church programs.
- However, for young adults there is value in supplementing or building upon the ministry at home with a godly and mature mentor gathering peers together for ministry outreach, training sessions geared toward equipping for ministry, and God honoring fellowship, following Jesus’ pattern in training His disciples. The church needs to come alongside supplement the family’s ministry.
Biblical Pattern #3– They are Young Adults Adulthood begins with puberty, bringing increased responsibility and opportunity. (Luke 2:42-47; 1Chronicles 25:1, 6-8)
- In Bible-times, once a child reached the age of puberty (about 13) they were initiated into adulthood and were treated as adults and given the responsibilities and opportunities of adults.
- Jewish tradition (Bar-Mitzvah) during biblical times and still today was to initiate their young people into adulthood when they reached puberty. There is nothing in Scripture that challenged this tradition or offered an alternative to it, but rather it seems to be accepted.
- There is NO biblical pattern (nor any historical precedent prior to the 1920’s) for the age segregation of teens as a separate entity distinct from adults. There is nothing significant that happens at the ages of 18, 19 or 20 that make a person an adult—they are simply arbitrary numbers.
- There is much evidence that segregating teens from the rest of the adult population is detrimental to their development and maturity, and is a major factor contributing to the common teenage delinquency of our society. Aren’t we trying to train them to become mature adults? So why take them away from the very sources of influence that can help them grow up?
- All through human history, many teens living in cultures in which they were considered to be adults have made very significant contributions to society and have made major achievements which are unheard of in our culture of teen segregation. (Achievements like ruling effectively as kings and queens, commanding armies, establishing empires, running effective businesses, effectively pastoring large churches, etc.)
- Therefore, to maximize the effectiveness of our ministry to our young adults we must focus on treating our teens as young adults, removing unnecessary age barriers and restrictions within the church while opening up and promoting opportunities for responsible involvement in all areas of ministry.
- Emphasize this principle regularly from the pulpit.
- Remove any unnecessary age restrictions from all church policy.
- Actively discourage any activity or teaching in the church which segregates teens and include young adults as peers whenever possible in ministries.
- Discourage activities and social events that promote or foster immature or irresponsible behavior (Ephesians 5:15-17).
- Raise the bar and challenge young adults to take on responsibility and to begin acting with greater maturity.
- Practice a public rite of passage (or graduation) ceremony for initiating young adults into the ranks of adulthood in our church fellowship.
Biblical Pattern #4– Apprenticeship The teen years are years of apprenticeship, working alongside mature adults who mentor them in all aspects of adult life. (Titus 2:4; Modeled by Jesus with disciples; Paul with Timothy and Titus; 1Chronicles 25:1, 6-8)
- In the Bible, this age seems to have been a time of maximum exposure to adult interaction and influence.
- Present practices of teen segregation isolate our young people from mature adults more than at any other stage of life, precisely during this important stage when they could most benefit from mentoring.
- The Biblical pattern seems to be an integrated approach to ministry. (Integrated as defined by Webster: “to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning whole; unite; to end the segregation of and bring into equal membership in society.”)
- Therefore, to maximize the effectiveness of our ministry to our young adults we must encourage and create opportunities for increased participation of more mature adults with the young adults in a mentoring capacity, in all areas of ministry.
- Emphasize this regularly from the pulpit.
- Implement a family integrated approach to ministry that very effectively embraces and ministers with practical relevance to all ages including the young adults.
- Every leadership role in our church should have built-in as part of the job description the requirement to train at least one younger person to be able to do the leader’s job.
- Promote father-son and mother-daughter ministry events.
- Minimize age segregated youth programs except those led by godly and mature mentors gathering peers together for ministry outreach, training sessions geared toward equipping for ministry, and God honoring fellowship, following Jesus’ pattern in training His disciples.
Biblical Pattern #5– Equip for Ministry The mandate and great commission of the church is a call to ministry—it does not include providing recreation or entertainment. (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 14:26, 40; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 4:12-16; 2 Timothy 2:1-6; etc.)
- Our mandate is to facilitate the corporate worship of God, the spiritual development of the people, and outreach to the needy; to accomplish this we are instructed to equip and prepare each of the members of the church to carry out this work of the ministry which includes ministering to the greatest need of all, the evangelization of the lost beginning at home and extending to the ends of the world.
- We are here on assignment and the work is far from done. “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2Timothy 2:4
- Therefore, to maximize the effectiveness of our ministry to our young adults all of our ministry should contribute toward fulfilling this biblical mandate. All ministries should have as their primary objective one or more of the following: a) the facilitating of worship, b) promoting spiritual development, c) equipping for ministry, d) caring for the needy and e) the evangelization of the lost. Fellowship will occur in the context of these settings. Other recreational activities may have legitimate value but they are not part of the mandate of the church.
- Emphasize the mission and mandate of the church from the pulpit.
- Rather than organizing ministry activities whose primary function is gathering together to “hang out” (often inaccurately labeled as fellowship) at the church on Friday nights, we need to steer our members toward finding true fellowship in the context of legitimate ministry.
- If young adults want to get together for socialization or recreation we encourage them to organize these events on their own rather than depending on the church to organize it for them. This is not the mandate of the church.
Biblical Pattern #6– Challenge to Discipleship A Young adult ministry should be a radical call to holiness, discipleship of Christ, and self-denying ministry to others. (Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 8:34-38; 2 Timothy 1:8-9; Hebrews 12:1-4; etc.)
- Jesus and the Apostle Paul presented their young followers with radical challenges like, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.” “Go, sell all your possessions and give it to the poor, then come follow me.” “Share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.” “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for you, fixing your eyes on Jesus.”
- Jesus and the apostles challenged their followers to get involved in the ministry to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”; They challenged them to plant churches and pastor churches and to care for widows and to feed the hungry, heal the sick, to cast out demons and to lay down their lives for the Lord, etc.
- Therefore, to maximize the effectiveness of our ministry to our young adults we need to challenge them to not conform to the pattern of the world but to biblical discipleship of Christ and to set a noble, Bible based, Christ exalting vision before our young adults and to pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon them in power and to use them to turn the world upside down for Christ the way that the young men and women who first followed Christ were challenged, commissioned and empowered.
- Emphasize this from the pulpit.
- Anyone wanting to give leadership to any ministry targeting young adults should have convictions, objectives and a focus consistent with this pattern.
- Seek for role models consistent with this pattern whom we can set before our young adults, whether they be live testimonies, books or videos.
- Look for opportunities in mission that we can set before our young adults, challenge them and pray together with them to consider enrolling.