How to Start a Worship-Shaped Youth Ministry

A brief philosophy and some suggested steps for starting a worship-shaped youth ministry

Trevor Rubingh

Trevor Rubingh, pastor of New City Church, Jersey City, New Jersey

Philosophy of Ministry

  • find out what moves teens, don't impose your style
  • always look for ways to incorporate teens in the planning
  • assume they are leaders waiting to be hatched
  • assume they are the church
  • "the church exists by mission as fire exists by burning" - this is not a bonus thing you can do with youth - this is youth ministry. Your neighborhood is the mission field. If you do this, your church will grow, as it should.
  • put their talents into play within one month. If it's drama, one month. If it's drums, one month. If it's keyboard, one month.
  • always strive to make things transferable and reproducing. Don't just teach teens. Teach teens how to teach.

Action Steps

  1. Pray and seek God as you begin
  2. Go to your pastor with this vision and make sure he/she is on board
  3. Form group of interested leaders - adults
  4. Identify gifts of volunteers and staff and choose a ministry based on those gifts
  5. Create application process. Announce to kids formation of team(s)
    1. either through existing children's ministries/outreaches or youth groups
    2. make it prestigious and desirable; let them know there are limited spots available
  6. Choose your applicants based on need, effort and parental support. Hold an organizational meeting with parents present
  7. Keep something going for kids who aren't in teams - but make it discipleship focused. You will have to let things go that don't fit the new vision. There is a cost - but that's OK.
  8. Structure for Youth Team meeting - 2.5 hours
    1. Discipleship - 1 hour
    2. Games - ½ hour (optional)
    3. Rehearsal - 1 hour
    4. if it's drama, rehearsal is practicing skits; if it's instruments, rehearsal is literally years of practice, but you can start the kids playing in public within months
  9. Rewards/Attendance system
  10. Positive and negative disciplining
  11. Awards system or points system - have kids earn their rewards
  12. Attendance counts
  13. Promotion & Reproduction
    1. after one year, make sure to promote kids to a new level of leadership
    2. from the beginning be training kids to take over within 3-5 years
  14. Get in the door soon - even if it's 6x/yr youth services or children's sermons

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