Building A Philosophy Of Sustainable Youthwork- Part 5

Building A Philosophy Of Sustainable YouthworkIn prior weeks we have focused on the first six principles: Youthwork is- Family Based, Congregational, Relational, Discipling, Missional and Evangelistic. This week we move onto:

Principle #7 – Youthwork is Holistic!

The goal of ministry with Youth is not to separate a young person’s faith journey from their life. As a matter of fact, giving theological language to the life journey and experiences is a critical component in a Young Person’s faith development. We help to give Youth the vocabulary to understand what is happening in their lives in relationship to the God of Jesus Christ.  We simply can not understand and grow in the things we can not name.  Solid and Sustainable Youth Ministry looks at the whole person and their whole family system and helps them to integrate their faith and life in the language best learned through the Bible.

Youthwork also looks at the whole Church Family. Are Youth involved in appropriate committee work? Do they lead in worship? Does the Senior Pastor relate with Youth as often as Adults? Do Church Lay leaders? Is the Family the primary unit considered when planning for Youthwork?  Are all forms of family considered and included as the Church plans ministry?

The Church cannot be a one-eared Mickey Mouse with the Adults in one space and the Youth segregated off in a separate space. Church life should always be multi-generational, only grouping people by age when absolutely necessary.  Congregational worship is hollow when any age group is missing for even a moment.

So if we look at the Young Person’s life Holistically and we look at the Youth’s role in the life of the Church holistically, then there will be some significant programs that are not just lecture style communication of religious facts.  Experiential ministry will dominate the calendar for all ages.

It would be appropriate to see tutoring sessions to pair up adults with math and science skills helping Youth with their schoolwork (supplementing the knowledge base of parents). Certainly scouting has been a traditional part of Church life and should always be supported. Cooking classes, basics of responsible use of money, how to change tires, college skills, and other specialized things every Young Adult will need proficiency in can be offered by members of the congregation.  There certainly can be times of instruction as well as times of shared experience.  There can also be times of reverse mentoring when Young People help older adults learn to use their iPhones or set up their Facebook page so that they can see photos of their far off grandkids.

Of course, basics in Bible, Theology, Prayer, Fellowship, and Christian Leadership are part of a strong and healthy program for Youth. They are just not the only important things when the Young Person is considered Holistically.

So, what special skills do your church members have to offer the Youth as you minister to them in a holistic way?

Next week we will tackle Principle # 8.


Peace and Grace,


Charles W. Harrison


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