Building A Philosophy Of Sustainable Youthwork- Part 9

Building A Philosophy Of Sustainable YouthworkIn prior weeks we have focused on the first eleven principles: Youthwork is – Family Based, Congregational, Relational, Discipling, Missional, Evangelistic, Holistic, Bible Based, Experiential, Youth-led and Utilizes Open-ended Discussion. This week we move onto number twelve:

Principle #12 – Youthwork Develops Youth As Christian Leaders.

Developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world. The church must recruit young people for ministry and provide them with the skills necessary to be effective in this new time of opportunity. That includes women and people of color the world over. Similarly, we must offer leadership training for lay people who are in ministry in countless ways. (

This is one of the Four Areas of Focus in the United Methodist Church. It means much more than just sending people to seminary to be pastors. It means equipping Disciples of Jesus Christ with the Leadership skills they need to help join God’s Mission to Save the World no matter what their personal vocational calling might be. We need more Christian Leaders in every profession!

Unfortunately, a lot of the talking heads on TV are not the true example of a Gospel Way of being in the world. Some historians make the case that because of John Wesley’s work of training Christian Leaders and moving to the margins of society to care for the people being crushed by poverty, England missed having a similar fate as France during the bloody French Revolution. Wesley trained mine workers and factory workers, women and students to lead after the example of Jesus. He worked to end the slave trade and got involved in other political hot potatoes of his day because of what he read in the Gospel story and how he understood the 1st Century Church to have operated.

What do we do at the local Church level that helps with leadership development in Youthwork? Youth Councils empower Youth to be in charge of their own ministry. Asking Youth to serve on various committees in the Church helps as well. Youth should be leading in worship on weekly basis. Youth should go on week-long mission trips. Youth should go on weekend retreats. Youth can be singing in the choir even if there is not a Youth Choir. Youth can be in weekly Bible study. Youth are often serving weekly in the community to meet the needs of those on the margins. Youth should be encouraged to be spending time with their Families talking about God, praying together, and studying Scripture together. Family Mission trips also help.

There are so many places Youth learn to lead from a Christian perspective.  They just need to be invited and empowered.  They need YOU and your church members to journey with them and mentor them. The job belongs to the whole church. Have you found your place to help develop principled Christian Leaders through Youthwork?  Has your church?


Peace and Grace,

Charles W. Harrison

One comment

  1. In our program, we found that this involved training adults as well. The confirmation group decides on a service project that will involve the parish leadership and prepares a presentation for them. This is not just pro forma, but serves two purposes: one, youth learn about the structures of leadership in the church and how to go through those channels. But secondly, the parish leadership SEES THE YOUTH as vital, viable, active members of the church. Changing that perception is important so that youth don’t feel like they’re banging their head against the wall when they WANT to be leaders and are perceived only as kids.

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