There’s a lot going on in the world of young people today. We may all live on the same planet but the world of adults is very different from the world of teenagers. Our young people are not okay. They’re hurting, alone, lost, and struggling to belong. But one thing is for sure – they’re not a minority. Recent statistics show that nearly half of the world’s 7 billion are under the age of 25 years of age. Reports are also recommending that governments continue investing in education and employment schemes to empower youth in a positive way. They are our future but with statistics like that; they are also our present. There are billions of young people spending the most vulnerable decision making years of their lives immersed in a broken world of youth culture.
I was 14 years old at a youth conference when a youth leader spoke to hundreds of teens about radically following Jesus in every area of their life. That night I made some serious decisions about the way I would live my life and who I would live my life for. I am now 30 years old and still living by those decisions I made during a loud mosh-pit response time. Right now teenagers are making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives but who is teaching them the truth?
Why young people?
The Bible is full of teenagers being chosen by God to carry a moment in history. Mary was likely to be 13 years old when the angel Gabriel spoke to her about the special calling she was chosen to carry. Shadrack, Meshack and Abendigo were 18 when they stood up for their faith in front of thousands. Samuel was a young child when He heard the voice of the Lord calling him by name to start his ministry. We cannot be careless with the value and importance of young people. God has a purpose for them that starts now, before adulthood. There is no special formula to effective youth ministry but there is relationship. And like every relationship you need to put in some effort.
Who will lead them?
There’s another story in the bible about a man called Joshua. He’s the guy that took over leading Israel from Moses. I’m not sure why but there were no leaders after Joshua. Maybe because nobody stepped up, or maybe because Joshua didn’t train anyone to take his place when he died. Israel was left to do whatever they thought was right in their own eyes which brought us to failure through compromise in the book of Judges. Joshua is one of my favourite men in the bible for his courage and leadership of Gods people into the promise but his impact ended at his death. Let’s face it. Youth leaders lack longevity. Research shows that the average commitment to youth ministry is anything from 6 months to 3 years maximum with many youth leaders feeling thrown into the job unprepared and alone. This is hardly enough for the 10 years needed to walk a young person through adolescence and see fruit that will remain through the next 80 – 100 years of their life. If we don’t become deliberate about reaching young people – the world will be happy to raise them for us.
Is this call for you?
If you have a heart for young people and want to lead a youth ministry – the School Of Innovative Youth Ministry is for you. You will be challenged, trained, and developed in your leadership. We aim to get you ready to influence young people beyond what you thought possible. We will also provoke you to engage in youth ministry during your lecture phase. Even if you have been doing youth ministry for years; there is still a lot to be learned. Leadership is about learning. I believe youth ministry is a calling. I believe it goes beyond filling a gap because God values young people and they have a priority in His plans right now. I believe it is a youth leaders role to teach our young people to think critically about the world that is being sold to them on a daily basis. Let’s show them that Jesus changes lives. Let’s change the statistic of youth leaders lasting only 6 months in youth leadership. Let’s see a fresh wave of young people being reached and released across all of the nations to the ends of the earth!
We invite you to dedicate 6 months to becoming a student of youth culture. If your heart breaks for young people – it’s time to do something about it. Let’s get serious about reaching young people. It’s time to be as passionate and influentual as MTV are about reaching young people.
I’ll leave you with the famous quote from the Chairman of MTV on their strategy for reaching young people… “The strongest appeal you can make is emotionally. If you can get their emotions going, make them forget their logic, you’ve got them. At MTV, we don’t shoot for the 14 year olds. We own them. (MTV is Rock Around the Clock, Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 3, 1982)