Youth Ministry 101: Back to the Basics

Back to the Basics: Building Blocks of Faith

Building a secure foundation of faith in a student’s life can be challenging. It all starts with the understanding that our ultimate goal in youth ministry is to teach teenagers to be disciples of Jesus. When that becomes our main objective then we will be well served to teach this truth by emulating how Jesus did it.

Stay Simple

Simple doesn't mean shallow. We have to narrow our focus to gain depth of knowledge and wisdom. Youth ministries often try to cover too much ground instead of going deep with a handful of important truths. As a youth leader, you should determine five important truths your students need to know by the time they leave your ministry. So what are the 5 important truths? Look over the list below at some of the basics steps teenagers should know about when building their faith:

  • Plan of salvation
  • God loves me/Christ died for me
  • Bible application
  • Prayer
  • Understanding faith
  • How to share your faith
  • Following after Jesus

This is not a complete list, but a good place to start. A good practice is to meet with some key students and develop a list of faith matters. Listen to your students and get a feel for where they are and what they need spiritually. Narrow the list down to 5 and focus your ministry around those elements.

Stay on point

Search the gospels and you will discover that Jesus had a plan for spreading the gospel. In the midst of all the activity that tends to circle around youth ministry it’s easy to forget the main point of why you’re meeting in the first place. Take a look at Jesus’ method.

  • Jesus spent time building a love relationship with believers.
  • Jesus spent time equipping his followers in developing skills and acts of service.
  • Jesus spent time developing his followers to experience and participate in evangelism.
  • After spending time and developing his followers, Jesus releases them to repeat the process all over again.
  • Stay focused and on point. Hold true to the main reason you’re meeting. If it doesn't fit within those perimeters, don't do it or redefine the overall objectives if possible.

Stay Real

It’s important that your youth ministry paints a realistic picture of life with Christ. Problems don't magically disappear. Not everyone will understand or accept their decisions and standards. It is important that they understand how the gospel relates to their everyday life and all the issues that it may bring. Jesus didn't talk about faith essentials in distant, hypothetical ways. He was genius to connect truth to story or everyday life.

Building faith in youth ministry should keep it real by communicating to teenagers that Jesus and Jesus’ teaching are relevant by...

  • Using Culture to find Truth – don't fight cultural influences. Instead, teach students to think critically and biblically. Use movies, music, news, videos, TV and other means of media to spark conversations with teenagers about biblical truths.
  • Look at the parables in your life – your life is telling a story. The best time to recognize the “parables” in your life is when you’re preparing to teach teenagers. Ask God how he’s using the circumstances of your life to help you learn His truths. These can be great moments of revelation to your students when you bridge your story to biblical truth.
  • Life experiences – never underestimate the power of life experiences through mission trips, youth camps, weekend retreats or special days. These types of trips plunge students in to real life quandaries. These moments make way for teachable moments where students’ faith meets real life.