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Teens Ministries: A Look at Kids Taking the Leadership Reins

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Teens ministries aren’t limited to adults ministering to teenagers. Youth ministry also can mean teens minister to other people, living out their faith. Check out this excerpt from Jonathan McKee’s book Ministry By Teenagers: Developing Leaders From Within

Meet Heather

I once met a girl at my church named Heather. During Heather’s eighth-grade year, she introduced five of her school friends to Jesus. Five! How many friends have you introduced to Jesus this year? Yeah, Heather has me beat, too. Those five girls brought even more friends to youth group.

My wife and I helped in teens ministries at the time. So my wife began discipling Heather and several others in this growing group of girls. About eight became regulars at our church. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happens when eight girls start going to church and youth group Yup. Guys started coming too—even those who’d never thought about it before.

By the end of Heather’s eighth-grade year, about 10 to 15 of her friends were regular attendees, and seven gave their lives to Jesus. Several went to Christian colleges after high school. One was Heather’s college roommate at Point Loma Nazarene University. For many youth workers, 15 kids is an entire youth group. For Heather, 15 kids was the result of her heart to see her non-Christian friends find hope. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a Heather in every church?

Meet Aaron

Aaron was the first person to greet me when I walked into the youth ministry office at a small church in the Bible Belt. A youth pastor from the church, Brian, had booked me to speak and train for the weekend. Aaron asked about my flight, and we made small talk. I quickly discovered Brian was out running errands. No worries. Aaron was warm and engaging.

“We’ve been praying about this weekend for a long time,” Aaron offered. “We’re really excited for what God has planned.” Aaron and I talked about the weekend’s plans as he stapled packets. Brian and I had reviewed the schedule multiple times, but it was interesting to hear Aaron’s perspective and expectations. (I’m always intrigued to hear what’s been communicated to other leaders in the ministry.)

“Do you see the focus of this weekend as outreach or spiritual growth?” I asked Aaron. After pondering the question, he said, “I think we’re starting with more of an outreach focus, but then we’ll slowly move toward spiritual growth.” I nodded in agreement.

Empowering Youth in Teens Ministries

“Tonight all the kids are bringing their friends,” he continued, “and you’ll present the gospel. That’s outreach. But it’s also a step of growth for many of the kids because they’ve been praying for this night for a long time. And they’ve each invited friends they’ve been praying for.”

Aaron picked up a stapled packet. “Tomorrow morning you’ll train the leadership team with your workshop. That’s also an opportunity for spiritual growth as we’ll learn how to do better ministry.” He placed the packet neatly with the others. “And finally, on Sunday morning I think your preaching in the services will focus on helping the congregation grow as well.” He raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders. “Right?” I smiled. “I think that’s the plan.”

Brian, the youth pastor who was still AWOL, had verbalized the weekend’s focus to me over the phone. But his assistant, Aaron, articulated it better than I’d heard yet. I was helping Aaron staple the remaining packets when Brian finally arrived, apologetic about getting stuck in a line.