How to Start a Worship-Shaped Youth Ministry
A brief philosophy and some suggested steps for starting a worship-shaped youth ministry
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.
- Pray and seek God as you begin
- Go to your pastor with this vision and make sure he/she is on board
- Form group of interested leaders - adults
- Identify gifts of volunteers and staff and choose a ministry based on those gifts
- Create application process. Announce to kids formation of team(s)
- either through existing children's ministries/outreaches or youth groups
- make it prestigious and desirable; let them know there are limited spots available
- Choose your applicants based on need, effort and parental support. Hold an organizational meeting with parents present
- 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.
- Structure for Youth Team meeting - 2.5 hours
- Discipleship - 1 hour
- Games - ½ hour (optional)
- Rehearsal - 1 hour
- 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
- Rewards/Attendance system
- Positive and negative disciplining
- Awards system or points system - have kids earn their rewards
- Attendance counts
- Promotion & Reproduction
- after one year, make sure to promote kids to a new level of leadership
- from the beginning be training kids to take over within 3-5 years
- Get in the door soon - even if it's 6x/yr youth services or children's sermons