November 1st, 2015

Youth ministry is challenging work. When I was serving as the pastor of a congregation, the leadership in that church actually contemplated stepping away from youth ministry because it was too hard. Finding the volunteers, keeping the staff, and working with the busy schedules of our youth were only a few of the complications. We even discussed encouraging the youth of our congregation to go down the street to another church where a stronger youth program was a recognized success. But what would that communicate to the youth (and parents) of our congregation? What about our responsibility for making disciples of Jesus Christ? How would our youth face the challenges that would come their way? We simply could not walk away from that critical mission and ministry.

Youth ministry is a calling from God for the whole congregation to nurture young people on their journey of faith. Youth leaders have been clearly called by God to this ministry, whether paid or volunteer, and they depend upon the love and support of the entire church in order to carry out the ministry. They depend on supportive, encouraging partners to come alongside them in the task of raising up youth in the faith. The entire congregation plays a key role in youth ministry.

Though ministry to youth is challenging and messy, it’s also a wonderful adventure full of surprises and blessings when congregations benefit from the work of youth ministry. If you haven’t had a deep, meaningful conversation with a young person lately about their faith journey, I encourage you to take the time to do so. You will see God at work!

The United Methodist Publishing House is very excited about our renewed commitment toward youth ministry, and we aim to partner with you by providing the resources that will assist in this work. After you read through these helpful, thought-provoking articles, I encourage you to consider passing this issue of Circuit Rider along to the youth ministry team in your congregation; and express a word of thanks to those leaders for the important ministry they are sharing with youth.

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