Photo by Erik M. Lunsford/The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
In Baptism God brings a young person into His family full of supportive adults of many generations. While parents or guardians may be the most critical person in a youth’s faith life, other supportive adults can play a significant role in walking alongside youth in their faith development. 72% of active LCMS Millennials said they had a safe person to talk to at church compared to 35% of those now unaffiliated with any church.
The majority of youth ministry leaders are lay leaders who volunteer their time to care for pre-teens and teens in their congregation. Youth ministry leaders can be healthy, Christ-centered supports for young people regardless of age, experience with teens or if they are parents. What does matter is that they champion young people and dedicate time and energy to developing teens as disciples of Jesus Christ for life.
Youth ministry leaders aren’t babysitters or crowd control; they are a vital part of a congregation’s ministry and are important Christian mentors. These adults are passionate about caring for the young people in their congregation and are willing to advocate for them. These youth leaders dedicate their time and energy to ensuring young people have the place and space to grow as disciples for life.
Supporting these leaders requires resources and training. Youth leaders need to be familiar with risk management, program development, finding and assessing curriculum, and adolescent development. Understanding and expertise in these areas will come over time, and this is why teams of lay leaders are incredibly valuable in youth ministry. Below are just a few of the resources that can be helpful to lay leaders seeking to best care for youth.
YouthESource provides free, doctrinally reviewed resources for congregations to use in their Jr. High and High School youth ministry. It has Bible studies, devotions, supports for youth leaders, and more.
Congregations should help Sunday School teachers to be aware of risk management, including how to care for minors in a way that protects both student and teacher. This page includes links to many resources, including policies and LCMS’ group discount for background checks.
End Goals is the podcast of LCMS Youth Ministry in the Office of National Mission. LCMS Youth Ministry Staff discuss practices for healthy youth ministry and interview practitioners who provide insight for experienced and new youth leaders.
Youth are not just the church’s future—they’re also the church’s now. As a leader, volunteer, or church worker, your job is to remind youth that they’re loved by Jesus and their congregation. At its core, youth ministry is about connecting childhood to adulthood and laying a strong foundation that encourages members to stay connected to the church throughout their lives. To do that, you need to be encouraged too. That’s where this book comes in. In it, you’ll read chapters written by people who know what it’s like to serve teens and their Savior, and you’ll find guidance, encouragement, and advice on leading a youth ministry that supports young adults in their faith for life.
Available from CPH, this book encourages parents, pastors, teachers, and youth workers to have honest conversations with teens about pornography, self-pleasure, homosexuality, modesty, the value of human life, and sex.
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