Distinctives

Expository Preaching
A youth ministry first of all must be focused on understanding and applying the Bible. Young people not only need to be told what the Bible says but also shown what it says. Youth leaders should be able to show young people where the Bible teaches them about the various issues they are facing and not simply give them their own opinion about how they should live.

Psalm 119:9-10 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!” Young people need to hear the word of God preached and taught to them so that their way may be pure and they may come to see more of the person and work of Jesus Christ. In other words the Bible is the teaching curriculum for our youth ministry. Young people must learn of the Sufficiency of Scripture by the way the youth ministry handles the word of God.

Also, the way a person preaches will influence the way people study the Bible. Youth need expository preaching so that they not only hear the Word of God but also learn from example how to study the Word of God and read Scripture on their own.

Importance of the Local Church
A healthy youth ministry must seek to build students into the church. Young people need to learn about a proper view of the church and how they are to function in the church. No youth ministry should be disconnected from the local church it is a part of. In other words the youth group should not be a Para-church ministry within the church. If God has saved a young person in the church they are called to the same standards as every other believer in Christ. Youth need to learn to be a part of the church as a whole and not just the youth ministry. This means they should be encouraged to be baptized if they are a believer and participate in the Lord’s Table. They should be taught how to give to the church and become a member of the local church. They should also be seeking to learn and use their spiritual gifts in the church as well.

Youth in the church are not the church of tomorrow but are the church of today. They may be the leaders of tomorrow but if they have been saved by God they are a vital part of the body of Christ. Young people should not be isolated from the rest of the body but should be incorporated into the body (1 Cor. 12:13).

Passionate Evangelism
Third, a healthy youth ministry should be focused on Evangelism. Many young people often struggle with assurance and understanding if they really know Christ. The youth leaders should be able to help young people think through these issues as well as guide the young person in honest self-evaluation according to the Scriptures (2 Cor. 13:5). Young people need to be taught that Evangelism is not limited to an event or a program where they bring their friends to but a lifestyle in which they live out their faith consistently among those around them and share the gospel with others as they have opportunity. Also the youth ministry should be a place where young people are equipped to share their faith with others in their families, schools and other activities in their lives (2 Cor. 5:20). From Junior High to College young people have an incredible opportunity to bring the gospel to those around them in their schools. Young people should have a clear understanding of what the gospel message is and be able to articulate it to others. Along with this, young people should consistently be encouraged to pray for the unsaved around them.

Importance of the Family
Another key aspect, which makes for a healthy youth ministry is a proper focus on the primary authority God has placed in young people’s lives, their parents. Youth ministry should be a support to what the parents are doing at home (cf. Exodus 13:6-15; Deuteronomy 4:9-10; Deuteronomy 6:4-7, Deuteronomy 6:20-25; Deuteronomy 11:18-19; Deuteronomy 32:45-46; Psalm 78:1-8; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:20-21). Youth ministry is supplementary. The youth leaders are in no way to take over the responsibility that is given to parents in the discipling of their children but rather are to help build young people back into their parents. In this way youth ministry becomes a kind of family ministry in which the whole family is ministered to in the process.

Qualified Leadership
Biblically qualified leadership is vital in producing a healthy youth ministry. Not just anyone should serve in the youth ministry. In order to serve and minister to students in this ministry one should be deacon qualified according to 1 Timothy 3:8-13. These servant leaders should be committed to personal discipleship in both their own lives and for the lives of others. In this way the leaders in the youth ministry are able to model what they are trying to teach to the youth. These leaders should also be men and women of the Bible. They should be continually growing in their understanding of the Word of God, especially as it relates to their own lives and the lives of youth.

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