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I love new. When someone starts a sentence with “We’ve never done this before” or “Here’s a new idea,” I get all pumped up. Yet I’ve been dealing with a lot of old lately.

  • I don’t have the new iPhone yet, and it’s been out for months already. It kills me to be off the pace of the upgrade treadmill.
  • My wife’s beat-up minivan has 171,000 miles on it, and I wish I could get her a 2013 Toyota Sienna tomorrow.
  • I just turned 38, so I’m not a spring chicken anymore.
  • I’m bored with our ministry’s summer calendar, so I’m trying to rethink it, gut it, and make everything brand new.

As we prepare to cross into the new year, I’m having a new thought: Maybe old should be the new, new. Maybe in our thirst for the latest gadget and “next best thing” type of programming, we’re missing out on some tried-and-true stuff that really works.

I don’t want to stand in the way of what’s next for youth ministry, but it doesn’t hurt to ponder some “new, old ideas” as we head into a new year.

1 – Build a team of caring adult leaders. Having the support of co-laborers in the faith has been a longtime tenet of youth ministry. This month, develop your inner circle of leadership—because the need for people who love God and love teenagers won’t ever change.

2 – Spend one-on-one time with young people. At the heart of ministry, past and present, is the individual. The church-growth movement has disproportionately fed the desire for the masses. But while large-crowd programs and events are fun, we must continually pursue and care for each young person.

3 – Rely on Bible-based curriculum and teaching. Styles and formats will come and go, and the size of groups will change. But the Bible has been and must stay at the center of youth ministry, no matter what philosophy we’re implementing this year or the next. Think about ways you can center your ministry more on Christ.

4 – Make sure a devoted follower of Jesus is leading the group. We can talk about leadership and experiment with the latest and greatest gadgets, tools, and core values. But if we aren’t in love with Jesus and devoted to him, our efforts (and ministry) will eventually implode.

Old really is the new, new!

Originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!

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