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The Death and Resurrection of Youth Ministry

Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”                                     1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Because of the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead, those of us who have put our faith in Him are guaranteed a literal, physical resurrection as well. Our unremarkable bodies will be sown like flower seeds in the ground. Then, at the resurrection from the dead, they will rise from the dirt and gloriously bloom with incomparable beauty.

jonathan-bowers-531799-unsplashI can’t wait for the final resurrection! As Paul wrote in Romans 8:23, “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

Without death and burial, there can be no resurrection. It’s true of seeds planted in the ground. It’s true of our bodies. And it’s true of youth ministry. Youth Ministry must “die” in its current form for it to experience a glorious resurrection.

Teenagers are looking for more than entertaining games, relational connection and a nice little life lesson from the Bible. Teenagers are looking for a King, a Cause and a Community. And there’s no better King than Jesus (Daniel 7:13,14), no better cause than making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) and no better community than the people of God (Ephesians 4:15,16).

What does the death of youth ministry look like? It’s simply a gut-level admission of the overall failure of typical youth ministry, an unshakable willingness to leave the typical behind and a Spirit-fueled determination to build a Gospel Advancing, disciple multiplying, God-glorifying youth ministry based on the book of Acts.

Death is hard and funerals can trigger tears. But this is all part of the grieving process when it comes to saying goodbye to our old form of youth ministry and embracing the even older one (2,000 years older!).

Just remember that after death comes resurrection! What will this resurrection of youth ministry look like? Perhaps like this… 

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.  And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:31-33

The King, The Cause and The Community!

Sure, there can still be pizza and games in this new/old form of youth ministry, but the overall emphasis of it will be the resurrected Christ and a reengagement of the mission He gave to all of us before ascending into heaven. This mission is to be vibrant and bold witnesses across the street, across the tracks and across the world (Acts 1:8).

When a youth ministry makes this shift, it may feel like a funeral at first. Some teens may leave in tears and a few parents and pastors may grieve. But once the resurrection takes place, your youth ministry will become a party with a very defined purpose.

If you’re ready to bury your current form of youth ministry and see something new and better resurrected, click here. But gird yourself. Death can be hard. But it’s so worth it when you see what happens three days (or three months) later.

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