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Youth ministry is like water; it can be many different things at different places.

Youth ministry is like water; it can be many different things at different places. So what works? Relational ministry with small groups seems to be something that is always in style. Beyond that, what works may be different for many of us. I am just asking because it seems to me we are always talking about a new revolution in ministry based on a book or conference but never about what really works.

Here is what I think works:

1. Small Groups
I am not talking about small group ministry; I am talking about working with students in small numbers. Jesus worked with 12 and from the 12 focused intently on a few. This tells me a ton about what works in ministry. Big is not better but actually maybe worse. Make your mission trip small; no larger than 15-25 and see how the growth increases. Make events based on smaller numbers and see the impact happen. Get small and be more effective.

2. Peer to Peer
When students lead, only good things can come. For so long, youth ministry has been about building a ministry to show the talents and abilities of the youth pastors. Thank God that is changing! What works are students as owners of their ministries. They will stay with the church if they are owners. Student leaders are church leaders.

3. Adults in Mentoring Relationship with Students
Adults discipling students works. When adults go deep into students’ lives, good things happen. When Jesus’ reality is taught by someone who has experienced redemption first hand, it’s powerful. We all know this, so we must spend our time developing our adults’ skills and hearts for students.

4. Challenge
I think challenging students works. Entertaining them or allowing them to be entertained with video games and movies does not bring about changed lives. Challenging students to solve clean water issues or poverty issues can bring them to life. Getting them involved with people who need help will bring them to the heart of Jesus and allow them to see his power and love for people.

5. Dreaming
Creating an environment where students are free to dream about the greatest things God will do in their lives works. Unleash your students; teach them they can do anything through Christ. Open the door of possibility and impress upon them that they will live forever with Christ; the first 80 years are here on Earth. So teach them to be risk takers for Christ.

I would love to hear what you think … 

Doug Franklin My name is Doug Franklin and I serve youth workers through a ministry called LeaderTreks. I love youth ministry and the people who serve in it. I work with an incredible team creating tools and resources enabling youth workers to develop students into leaders. I want to influence youth workers to challenge students and prepare them for leadership in the kingdom of God.

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