The word philosophy may bring to mind heady scholars in stuffy lecture halls. But when applied to youth ministry, it’s an incredibly practical, transformational term. Having a clear philosophy enables you to focus on what’s truly important for your youth group and weed out what’s not.
Below is the Gospel Advancing, disciple-making philosophy I would embrace if I were blessed to be in the sacred role of youth pastor again. Feel free to adopt it as your own and adapt it to fit your own situation.
Our youth ministry philosophy is built on the last and lasting mandate of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 to “go and make disciples.” We carry this out by instilling these 7 biblical values into our strategies, programs, and people.
1. Intercessory prayer fuels our efforts (1 Timothy 2:1-8).
We pray for each other and for the lost, in every way we can. We believe we must talk to God about others before we talk to others about God.
2. Relational evangelism drives our efforts (Romans 1:16).
We believe that the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. We instill in our teenagers: 1) Gospel urgency, helping them understand why it’s important to share the Gospel in their circle of influence; 2) Gospel fluency, equipping them to master the message of the Gospel; and, 3) Gospel strategy, training them to share the Gospel in a clear and compelling way.
3. Leaders model and set the pace for our efforts (Luke 6:40).
We recruit, equip, and mobilize adult and student leaders who are willing to pray for the lost, live and give the Gospel, and make disciples in the power of the Holy Spirit. We believe that these leaders set the pace and create the culture for effective evangelism and disciple-making.
4. A disciple-multiplication strategy guides our efforts (2 Timothy 2:2).
We won’t stop until every unbeliever is a believer and every believer is a disciple-maker. When a teenager puts their trust in Christ, we want to see them grow in Christ. As much as possible, we will help teenagers reach and disciple their own friends, training them to also be disciple-makers.
5. A bold vision focuses our efforts (Acts 1:8).
We have a bold vision that starts across the street, reaching teenagers at the schools near us (our “Jerusalem”). We will work to deploy teenagers at every school to be campus missionaries and reach their peers with the message of Jesus. We have a bold vision that extends “across the tracks” to socio-economic areas that are different than ours (our “Samaria”). We will send our teenagers out consistently to be ambassadors of hope to teens who are not like us but need the Gospel just the same. Finally, we have a bold vision that expands across the world. We will consistently challenge our teenagers to take the Gospel to different cultures in other parts of the world (“the ends of the earth”).
6. Biblical outcomes measure our efforts (Acts 2:41).
Just as the early church measured their impact through numbers of baptisms and new converts being made and multiplied, we gauge our effectiveness by both qualitative (deeper spiritual maturity, fruit of the Spirit) and quantitative (new converts, baptisms, number of Gospel conversations) measures.
7. Ongoing programs reflect the goal of our efforts (Acts 6:1-4).
We will ensure that our weekly, monthly, and annual programs focus on intercessory prayer, evangelism, and disciple-multiplication, with the goal of advancing the Gospel in and through our teenagers. We will consistently proclaim the Gospel at our meetings and equip our students to do the same in their spheres of influence.