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How to Reboot Your Youth Ministry to Make it Relational

We’ve been talking about the paradigm shift in youth ministry and what this means for how we should do youth ministry. I think it’s time to make it practical and take a look at how we can reboot our youth ministry to make it better fit the times and context in which we’re living.

As I wrote in the previous post, I think there are three essential elements of doing youth ministry the new way: relationships, discipleship and outreach. We’re going to discuss these in detail in the next three posts. Today we’ll focus on how you can reboot your youth ministry to make it more relational, to put relationships at the center.

First of all, it makes a big difference if you’re new to your church or if you’ve been there for a while. In the first case, you may want to take it slow and get a good feel for the church and the key “players” first. It’s never a good idea to start right away with rocking the boat and dissing your predecessor.

How relational is your youth ministry at the moment? How well do your leaders know the students and how much time do they actually spend building relationships?

Making youth ministry more relational

But if you feel you’ve built enough of a reputation to have the credit to be able to make some changes, how and where do you start? Here’s what I would do.

1. Analyze the current situation

You can’t make changes to make your youth ministry more relational if you don’t know what needs to change. So start with analyzing the relational ‘grade’ of your youth ministry right now. Here are some questions to give you an idea:

  • Do you know all the names of the students in your ministry? Do the other leaders? How much time do you spend getting to know the names?
  • How much time do your leaders spend with students “actively,” meaning they’re actually talking to the students? (Note that activities like youth services, going to the movies and giving Bible studies don’t count, as these are passive relationally speaking.)
  • Do your leaders spend any times with the students outside of youth ministry activities? If so, is this active or passive time?
  • Is every student in your ministry “covered” by a leader, meaning someone is responsible for keeping in touch with him or her?
  • Can your leaders give a rundown on the personal and home situation of each student they’re responsible for? Can they tell you anything else, like hobbies, friends, issues they’re going through?
  • Do your leaders stay in touch with their students during the week?

These are just a few questions to get an idea of how relational your youth ministry is doing.