5 Steps to Creating an Effective Youth Ministry

by Dave Coryell

Observing youth ministry on five continents (don’t worry Australia, I’ll get to you at some point, Antarctica- not a chance!) provides a kaleidoscope youth min perspective. So many options, so many opportunities, but I have also recognized five key steps that make youth ministry effective across cultures.

  1. Equip People- A Youth Worker-Centered approach does not work long term. Finding a lead volunteer or hiring a youth pastor can be effective when this person develops a discipleship process the overall church embraces. The person also needs to see leadership development among young people and adult leadership as primary. In summary, LAY DOWN THE PRIDE AND BE BIBLICAL.
  2. Consistency- Effective youth ministry programs do not meet once a month or every other week. They meet every week and are not cancelled due to holidays, major church functions, or anything short of cataclysmic natural events. People are too distracted to remember which date is which. They need to meet every week without fail to find a rhythm and eventually invite others to come with them.
  3. Christian- Duh! The youth ministry meeting must be Christian. Seems common sense, but incredibly some well-intentioned youth workers water down their gatherings and eliminate or diminish the very substance that young people need to grow closer to Christ. Make your gathering unapologetically Christian- always with prayer, always with a Bible reading or study component.
  4. Socially Acceptable Atmosphere- Burn the moldy couches please! Never again should I enter a youth room that reeks of musty furniture. Play welcoming music that connects with young people. Create a socially acceptable setting for the youth you are serving in your setting being aware of all five senses! This can be in a home (that is cleared in advance), a church room, a park, or whatever works for the young people in your area; however, it must be socially acceptable TO THEM.
  5. Loving Atmosphere- Communicate all are welcome. All are valuable. All are affirmed. Eliminate favorites, put downs and sarcasm. Turn ministry over to the young people for effective welcoming and follow-up ministry.

Want to learn how to take these steps well? Desire to establish an effective discipleship plan that builds young people as leaders? Reach out to us info {at} CEworks.faith

5 thoughts on “5 Steps to Creating an Effective Youth Ministry”

    1. Thanks for the comment & feedback, Peg. We’re glad to know you’re continuing to Equip People & that the C.E. Model is working there in Honey Brook!!

  1. Very helpful, succinct blog. Thanks! Point #2 has me intrigued. How might we integrate youth group into the church functions when the church functions are the same night as youth group? For example, missions nights are the same night as youth group, so the church encourages youth to attend the missions night as their youth group (to learn more about the various missions). Invariably, the more dedicated youth attend missions night, and the rest skip…undermining the consistency of youth group, as well as missing the opportunity to have youth think beyond “what do I get out of this”. How are other churches integrating youth group with the other generations?

    1. Hey Phil! So great to hear from you. I have dealt with the situation you describe in my fifteen years as a youth pastor as well as during the last decade as I have served with Christian Endeavor. In order to develop a youth ministry where young people are empowered to reach their peers for Christ, consistency is critical. Many senior pastors or church boards have taken an attitude of, “Aw, it doesn’t matter if the regular youth group is cancelled once a month or once a quarter or on a holiday, because we need to build intergenerational connections.” There are programs that talk about this being the most important thing. Phil, the call for intergenerational ministry is a pendulum swing taking youth ministry away from where it should be. There is a way to accomplish both an age-specific program for young people that is outreach designed but spiritual growth concerned, but meeting consistently each week is a non-negotiable principle.

      Second, How are other churches integrating youth group with the other generations? Many churches are not doing this well. The churches that are functioning well take a few steps- one is looking for service teams where youth are integrated with adults via areas of skill or interest. Tech, praise band, scripture reading, connection or welcome team- you see the idea. The word picture I use is that if the entire youth ministry goes on a retreat, the church on that Sunday morning should be limping because they realize how actively involved young people are in the regular functioning of their church. Second- announce broadly the places where adults can connect with young people in the community by supporting school activities or writing encouraging cards. Third- prayer support program. My first initiative at churches where I served was to connect every youth on the roles with one adult that would pray specifically for him or her. I found a volunteer who designed a program taking pictures of youth and putting them on cards that were sent with salient information about the youth. These were designed to be hung on refrigerators. I have trained many youth workers through C.E. and through seminary/Bible College classes I have taught and I always pass along this principle. It worked with a small church and also with a group of over 150 youth. Finally, have key church leaders attend brief moments of the youth ministry calendar. For instance, if possible with distance, have the senior pastor show up for a brief time on the Saturday of the annual youth retreat. Do something similar at a Kick-Off event or other large event. Pause the event- and give a huge shout out to the pastor or church leader. Treat them like superstars and explain that these leaders cared enough about them as a youth group to come and just say hi for a few minutes. Perception is huge with teens. Help them perceive that adults believe they are important and you begin conquering the intergenerational barrier. Please let me know if I can serve you in any other way. Peace

  2. Sorry Phil! First post didn’t seem to load so I rewrote it. Posted #2 and then #1 magically appeared. Guess I was supposed to write you twice! Blessings on your ministry. DC

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