I’ve been in youth ministry now for over 10 years. Some will say after the decade mark, you become a specialist or expert. Yeah right!!!! Man I’m still learning every day. As a youth pastor in an urban setting, with limited resources, I often times find myself searching for ways to stay current and relevant! If I could be honest, there are a lot of times when I feel alone, unprepared, and isolated from the rest of the Christian world. Surely there was no one else on Earth is struggling in youth ministry like I am to keep up with all of the latest treads, fashions, fades, and issues facing this generation. What do I do? Where do I start? How do I get them to listen to me? If they don’t get, how disappointed will God be in me? Honestly, at times, I’m scared to death, however, I do fell a deep calling to this type of ministry and 11 Timothy 1:7 reminds me that God hasn’t given me the Spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.
As I talk to other youth leaders, we all seem to have or currently feel the same way. Here is the million dollar question: “How do you begin a youth group, with virtually nothing, for kids in urban settings?”
First, we must understand there is no one cookie cutter process or magical formula. There really isn’t a “how-to” manual for urban ministry (YET!!!). The needs of the students are as diverse as the cultures, ethnic groups, and personalities of those who make up the inner city.
Although there are no set formulas, there are a few essential ingredients which, if implemented, make it more likely for kids to want to keep coming back.
I know, I know, you don’t have any resources. But if you take a good look around, you’ll begin to see a tone of great resources around you.
1. Christian Ed. Resources: This is the obvious. These resources include your Bible, Christian books, music, videos, etc. You can check out www.simplyyouthministry.com to get some ideas.
2. Facility Resources: You have access to a church building, homes, schools, gyms, parks, and recreational facilities where you could meet and host activities for students. Check around to see what’s available and what would work best for you. You can even rotate your meeting places.
3. People resources: There are adults from your church who can help you, special speakers you can invite, and local music groups who might be willing to come for free.
As the leader, you are the key. You have to get out there and pound the payment (as my mom always say) There maybe resources already around you and available to you for little or no cost.
START WHERE YOU ARE
If you don’t have a lot of students in your youth group, it doesn’t mean you can’t have an effective ministry. Some of the greatest youth ministries out there started with 5 –8 people. This is a perfect size to start developing your core student leadership team and to develop a strong group of disciples that will help grow the ministry. The key in this phase is building relationships. Let the students in on the planning and development of the ministry. You’ll see their level of commitment and excitement for the ministry. Once you’ve established relationships and earned their trust; you’ve laid the foundation for an effective program and ministry to take place and grow.
This is where most youth leaders drop the ball. I’m all for the traditional format for a youth service:
â€¢ Welcome & Opening Prayer
â€¢ Praise & Worship
â€¢ Announcements & Recognition of Visitors
â€¢ Choral Worship (You know the song that set’s up the message)
â€¢ The Word
â€¢ We’ll holla at you next week and do it all over again!
That cool and everything, but what about adding a little flavor in it every once and awhile! Your job is to sell a product and/or brand that is exciting and inspirational and makes students want to come back and bring their friends. Students like, want, and need to express themselves (check out some of my students www.myspace.com/incrediblzproductionz). This is why I believe hip hop and varies genres of music is so appealing. Encourage students to do poetry, drama, music, dance, rap, painting, cartooning, graffiti art, T-shirt art, computer graphic arts, murals, even cooking and auto mechanics. Help facilitate your young people to experiencing God’ spirit though the arts. God Himself likes to be creative. “God saw all he had created, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31)
Please don’t think you’re alone in this! We’re in this together! You can, and you will be healthy and effective! You know why, because God said so!!!!