Review: What Youth Ministry is Not About


Happy New Year NEXT Institute readers! One of our dear friends, Walt Mueller, of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, has written an incredible article hosted by the Youth Specialties blog, reminding us all of the purposes of our calling. Walt offers a list of things youth ministry is NOT about:

“Youth ministry is not about keeping kids busy.

  • Youth ministry to not about attracting kids to things that keep them busy.

  • Youth ministry is not about fun. . . although it can and must be enjoyable. Fun can’t be our #1 functional priority.

  • Youth ministry is not about keeping kids involved until they graduate from high school.

  • Youth ministry is not about filling a room.

  • Youth ministry is not about all young eyes on us.

  • Youth ministry is not about the ever-growing time-consuming pursuit of cultural relevance and cool.

  • Youth ministry is not about curating self, space, or experiences in order to become a kid-magnet.

  • Youth ministry is not about creating experiences that offer a few minutes of sneaking-in or throwning-in nuggets of truth with the hope that something might stick.”

One of the most convicting elements of this list is the TIME often required to pursue many of these endeavors, time that takes us away from the difficult work of communicating God’s Word, discipling our students, counseling the hurting, and developing our ministries to reach those specific students God wishes for us to reach.

But even more so, Walt centers this loss of time and effort on our lack of developing ourselves:

I am increasingly convinced as I read God’s Word, look at the pervasiveness of the compelling cultural narrative, and listen to kids, is that they need youth workers committed first and foremost to the relentless pursuit of their own spiritual depth. We can only lead to depth out of our own depth. Dig your well deep. . . and let God fill it. Know the Word. Study the Word. Teach the Word. Kids want it and need it. Teach and talk out of the passions God builds in you as a result of your own study. Develop and teach your own talks and studies.

Thank you, Walt, and CPYU, for reminding us of the depth of our calling as we ring in the new year.

ReviewsStephen Yates