This autumn, Claire Osman is leading Reign Ministries in a new church partnership programme. The aim is to bring together the church’s senior leadership, the youth leader and volunteers and coach them to have a coherent vision and strategy for making disciples of young people in their church.
I shared a Zoom call with Claire to hear more about it.
What keeps a church from effective youth ministry?
There are multiple reasons why churches struggle to develop effective youth ministry, but Claire could quickly outline three key reasons that she encounters over and over again.
First, in most churches, one person, who is often young and untrained, is put in charge of the youth work. Claire sees a future where lay people in the church, not just the youth leader, are equipped to make disciples of young people in a relational way.
“I’d love to see churches where it’s not just one person taking ownership for working with young people, but where there are people of different ages and life stages that are all investing in the youth together” said Claire.
Secondly, Claire has identified a gap between the youth ministry and the leadership of the church. She aims to bridge that gap by bringing the senior leadership and youth leaders together.
She shares, “Its so important for the senior leadership to be involved in supporting and investing in the youth work. In most churches, the senior leaders are encouraging of the youth leaders, but are quite hands-off with the young people and how the youth ministry is set up. They are just glad to have someone in post who can make some attempt at caring for the young people. Instead of this hands-off approach, I believe the senior leadership need to be actively involved in setting strategy and then holding the youth worker accountable for what they want to see happen.”
Third, churches struggle to have effective youth ministries because often no one, neither senior leadership or the youth volunteers, really knows what they are actually aiming for.
Claire says, “The leadership usually doesn’t have a picture of what they want the young people to look like at the end of their time in the youth ministry. They haven’t stopped to think about ‘what success looks like for their youth ministry?’ The end goal isn’t that young people need to be nice Christians, but rather that their faith is something that is empowering for both now and for the future and impacts the lives of others around them.”
What does success look like as you pilot this programme?
These new partnerships will go beyond Reign placing a student youth minister in the church. Claire will bring her youth ministry experience to bear helping the churches to develop a strategy for the youth ministry, aid in the raising up and training of lay volunteers, and fill in the gaps when a student youth minister’s skills are still being developed.
“We are really glad to have some churches on board who are willing to try something new with us,” said Claire. “I’m hoping in the first year of these partnerships we can help the senior leadership and youth worker have conversations about purpose, vision and strategy around the youth work. It would be great if the whole church can see the benefit of investing in young people, and that as a result, volunteers start stepping forward to learn how they can help to build an effective youth ministry.”
Could the volunteers in your youth ministry benefit from setting a strategy together? Would they rise to the challenge to build relationships with young people? There is still time to join us for a youth ministryLearning Community that begins October 24, 2020.
Joy has 20 years youth ministry experience and serves as the Development Director for Reign Ministries.
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