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My Philosophy of Youth Ministry
by Daniel Dela Dunoo
7/22/2015 / Church Life
A cursory look at events in the religious landscape of many Europeans countries some of which were ones the citadel of Christianity and largely involved in missionary outreaches to other parts of the globe such as the African continent reveals that Christendom (the church) is fast loosing grounds to post modernism, atheism, occultism and the likes. A large segment of the youth in countries such as Great Britain want to have nothing to do with the church and many of her churches have had to close down (Knox, 2005; McDowell and Bellis, 2006). Why such a bizarre turn of events? One may ask.
I contend that this phenomenon may be partly (if not entirely) attributable to a missing link; a previous generation failed to pass on the faith to the next. This state of affairs is similar to what transpired in Judges 2:8 -15. Commenting on this passage Yamoah (2012) notes that "one of the reasons that account for the cycle of sin which begun in Israel after the death of Joshua is that the next generation of leaders failed in their duty to train the younger generation that followed them" (p. 36). As a matter of fact, Judges 2: 10 categorically states, "After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up who neither knew the LORD nor what he had done for Israel." This will be the fate of the church the world over if the youth ministry is not prioritized and given the requisite attention. By this I wish to state vehemently and categorically that the youth in the church represents a pivotal part of the Church; the youth of today represents the succeeding (next) generation; they are the church of tomorrow; the church`s hope for survival and expansion. This informs my conviction that the youth ministry must be given a phenomenal amount of attention. How can this be accomplished? This brings me to another crucial component of my philosophy of youth ministry. The purpose of the church and for that matter the youth ministry is worth noting.
The purpose of the church will have a direct bearing on the purpose of the youth ministry. A good working knowledge of the purpose of the church is essential for effective youth ministry. Where the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable. According to Fields (1998), "a purpose driven church is built around the five purposes found in two popular passages, the great commandment and the great commission" (p. 46). I could not agree with him more. The great commandment refers to Mathew 22:37 40 whereas the great commission refers to Mathew 28:19 -20. Both are direct instructions from Christ. Fields (1998) contends that imbedded in these two passages of Scripture are five cardinal and eternal purposes of the church, namely, worship, fellowship, discipleship, evangelism and ministry. Indeed, a careful reading of these passages will reveal these purposes.
As earlier on noted, the church`s purposes is by extension the youth ministry`s purposes. This must be seen and claimed a such; the church`s purposes must consciously become the youth ministry`s purpose. My contention is that if the requisite attention is given to each and every one of these purposes, the church will as a matter of Cause Bridge the generation gap, that is, the church will equip and empower the youth for the continuity and expansion of the church.
Sherrod (2011) uses an interesting analogy to convey the concept I seek to promote as follows:
In a track and field, the four person relay is centered on successfully passing a baton from one runner to the next. A hand off outside the passing zone disqualifies the team, while a fumbled baton leaves the team far behind in the race. The hand off of God`s truth to the next generation must also occur during a specific window of time and must not be dropped in the exchange" (p. 1).
With the above noted (and on the above basis), I wish to state that my philosophy of youth ministry boarders on creating the appropriate environment that fosters, worship, fellowship, discipleship, evangelism and ministry among the youth with the intent of ensuring the continuity and expansion of the entire church. This is on the basis of the premise that the youth constitute the future of the church; without the youth, there will obviously be no church some time to come.
Fellowship as already noted is one of the purposes of the youth ministry and must thus be given some time attention. If the youth don`t feel accepted and loved, then they will find somewhere they will. In the youth ministry, this has to be more than the youth leadership. The youth must be taught to be relational, how to talk to each other, be friendly and let others know they are willing to listen.
According to Fields (1998) "evangelism is sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those who don`t yet have a personal relationship with him" (p. 47). Evangelism can be said to be the wheels of the church and by extension the youth ministry. Thus growth (numerical) is impossible without evangelism. Youth groups may adopt different methods of evangelism for reaching their peers with the Gospel of Christ. Some methods are much more effective than others, depending on the context. In some socio culturing contexts youth rallies may be appropriate whereas in other contexts sharing the Gospel from house to house may be feasible. Some evangelism drives may be a mix bug. Folmsbee (2007) advocates for what he terms life dynamic evangelism. He notes that "a life dynamic approach to evangelism involves sharing the truths of God in the context of our everyday lives it is an explanation of our faith both verbally and in actions as the events of our lives unfolds" (p. 32).
According to Fields (1998), "discipleship is the term regularly used to describe the building up or strengthening of believers in their quest to be like Christ" (p. 49). The educational drive of the youth ministry should not be taken for granted; they must be Biblical in content and seek to influence the youth for good.
Fields (1998) notes that "ministry can be defined as "meeting needs with love."" (p. 50). He further states that "God has blessed every believer with special gifts to be used for ministry" (p. 50). Opportunities ought to be created for the youth to develop and utilize their individual gifts for the betterment of the whole.
According to Fields (1998), worship may be defined as "celebrating God`s presence and honoring him with our lifestyle" (p. 48). He asserts that worship "is our reason for existence" (p. 48). Worship must be encouraged amongst the youth and the appropriate climate created to facilitate it. They ought to be taught accurately about worship and led to worship.
My contention is that, plans, goals, programs and activities must be centered on the five purposes of youth ministry with the intent of equipping and empowering the next generation for continuity and expansion of the church; continuity and expansion of the youth ministry and the church in general hinges on the five purposes of the youth ministry.
Fields, D. (1998). Purpose driven youth ministry: 9 Essential foundations for healthy growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan publishing house.
Folmsbee, C. (2007). A new kind of youth ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Knox, N. (2005). Religion takes a back seat in Western Europe, 1, USA Today.Retrieved, November 12, 2012 from:http://usatoady30. usatoady.com/news/world/2005-08-10- europe-religion-cover_x.htm?csp=34
McDowell, J. & Bellis, D. H. (2006). The last generation.Grand Rapids: Baker books.
Sherrod, C. (2011). Equipping the next generation, 1, Christian research institute. Retrieved, November 12, 2012: http://www.equip.org/articles/equipping-the next- generation/
Yamoah, J. (2012). Always ready. Kumasi, Ghana: Classic Graphics.
I am a freelance writer/editor, blogger & a published author. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology from the University of Wales, UK.
Email: [email protected]. Blog: http://danieldeladunoo.blogspot.com / http:theroyalwordsmithgh.wordpress.com
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