Youth ministry is not dead. Youth ministry is not even dying. Contrary to how we all may feel while climbing out of a sweaty church van after a week-long mission trip, youth ministry is not even just barely holding on. Yes, it is true that cultivating and sustaining a healthy student ministry has been enormously challenging in the post-pandemic world. Yes, it is also true that 1 in 3 Christians have stopped attending church since the COVID-19 Pandemic began (Barna Group, 2020). When it comes to your struggles in student ministry, you are not alone. Your youth ministry is not dead, you simply have an opportunity to prayerfully seek how God will breathe new life into your ministry. It is time to stop defining the success of your post-pandemic ministry by your pre-pandemic standards. Seek to revitalize your youth ministry. Seek to redefine your win, that is, the successful aspects of your ministry.
Youth ministry has essentially been flipped on its head since COVID-19 caused our lives and student ministries to be more challenging than ever. Our churches have changed, and our youth ministries have changed. Most importantly, our youth themselves have fundamentally changed. Maybe your youth group is less than half the size it used to be. Maybe all your old programming just isn’t working anymore. Maybe you just feel discouraged, frustrated, and overwhelmed. The reality is, however, that the current status of your youth ministry is simply a groundwork for God to work through you in brand new ways. Your work as a shepherd to students is more important now than ever before. It is time for all of us who minister to young people to rethink and redefine how we do that well. Since COVID-19, I have noticed my youth struggling to seek genuine relationships with their peers. So, I have changed my time and budget priorities so that I can frequently meet with youth one-on-one or in small groups for lunch or coffee. Married adults with children under 18 are the demographic that have most left the church since the COVID-19 Pandemic (Institute for Family Studies, 2022). In the absence of adult mentorship in their spiritual lives, my new emphasis on extra-personal discipleship has allowed me to develop students’ relationships with me, with our ministry, and with Jesus. The students who have come to know Jesus exclusively through personal discipleship and not through their youth group attendance is one example of how I have redefined my win. The question is- how will you redefine yours?
Consider what has changed in your ministry. The students who no longer have the time or desire for a youth group may be open and willing to meet with you for coffee. That’s a win, not a loss. Your middle schoolers may seem more immature and chaotic than ever before, but their ability to be themselves and feel safe in your ministry is a win, not a loss. Your Instagram posts get no more than 3 likes from graduated students, but your students are loving your youth TikTok and following you on BeReal. That is a win, not a loss. You had to cancel your retreat or mission trip due to low registration, but you redirect your energy toward taking your core youth group kids bowling and getting to know them more personally. That is a win, not a loss. God will work through you to revitalize and bring new life into your ministry. How will you actively trust God to redefine your win alongside you?. As you prayerfully consider your own church context and how to redefine your win in post-pandemic ministry, ask yourself these questions-
- How have your youth changed and continue to change since the COVID-19 Pandemic began?
- How can your youth ministry change right now in a way that meets your youths/ new needs?
- What old programs and practices are you ready to let go of as you seek to prioritize new, revitalized, and redefined ideas? What are those ideas?
Emily is a full time Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at a United Methodist Church! Emily has a Bachelor of Arts in both Youth Ministry and Psychology. She is passionate about leading young people to Christ and helping them cultivate a sustainable faith.
Emily is one of DYM’s Featured Authors this month! She just released an amazing resource for our Gold Members, who got it for free! You can still purchase it for your youth group if you want to have an epic Halloween Bash!
This complete event pack includes EVERYTHING you need to host a massively successful and super fun Halloween Trivia Party! This complete event pack includes a complete leader’s guide, five rounds of themed trivia (25 questions total!), four mini-games, three ways to play and host this event, a Spotify playlist, an answer sheet, a score sheet, and an answer key This clear and detailed event pack will set you up for a memorable Halloween party that your youth will be talking about all year long!
Check out Emily’s other DYM resources as well by clicking here!