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YOUTH

MINSITRY
Youth Ministry in an Age Group Context

DM Arendse

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David Arendse

TABLE OF
CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION .............................................................................. 3
DETAILS OF YOUTH PASTORS INTERVIEWED ................................. 3
Daniel ODoherty ............................................................................ 4
Chris Grobler ................................................................................. 4
Desiree Spolander .......................................................................... 5
Philleo Ngwane............................................................................... 6
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF PEOPLE WITHIN AGE GROUP ................... 6
KEY NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE IN THE AGE GROUP ............................. 8
VITAL MINISTRY PRINCIPLES ........................................................ 9
Care: ............................................................................................ 9
Compassion: ................................................................................ 10
Community: ................................................................................ 11
Accountability: ............................................................................. 12
Relevance: .................................................................................. 12
Restoration: ................................................................................ 13
CONCLUSION ................................................................................ 14
Appendix ...................................................................................... 16
BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................ 17

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INTRODUCTION
Youth ministry is one of the most challenging ministries that anyone can find
themselves in. The challenges are ever growing as the world and context that we
find ourselves in continues to degrade the moral fiber of our society. The need for
a functioning, relevant, transformative and radical youth ministry has never before
been as great as it is in this very moment of human history.
This is not to degrade the needs of any other ministry, as all are as important and
needed to fulfil the workings of a functioning church. (Rom 12:4-5). But it is to raise
awareness of the needs of the generation that will ultimately inherit the church.
It is for this reason that this paper will seek to unpack the needs of the youth of
today.

DETAILS OF YOUTH PASTORS INTERVIEWED


I have had the privilege of working with each of the youth pastors that have
interviewed at one point or another. There are also good personal friendships
between myself and the youth pastors interviewed and I admire the work that they
are doing and continue to do for the Kingdom.
Their approaches are different, yet in that there can be lessons that can be learnt,
and I believe that they represent the diverse nature of the city we find ourselves in.

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The interviews were done on a one on one set up, were informal, and notes were
taken based on what was said, the questions discussed can be found in appendix
A, the interviews were done via conversation.

Daniel ODoherty
Daniel has been serving at Liberty Church for close on 10 years, he began in the
childrens ministry and has grown in both confidence and stature.
He took over as Youth Pastor at the beginning of 2013, and has taken what was a
failing ministry and turned it around into a vibrant and growing one.
His church fits into the big church model and has a membership of approximately
3000 people.
His ministry is called Revs Youth, they serve people who are currently in grade 8
- 12, and they meet on a Friday night from 19:00 to 21:30.
Email: daniel@mylibertychurch.org

Chris Grobler
Chris serves as the Youth Pastor for his church, City Life Church in Lonehill. The
church itself is fairly new and is still growing. He finds himself in a situation where

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not only is he in a small church, but what sets him apart as someone to whom a
lot can be learnt from, is that his ministry in mainly to people from a different culture.
His church fits the small church model and has a membership of approximately 80
people.
His ministry meets on a Friday night from 19:00 22:00, is targeted at those that
are currently in Grade 8 12, and it is called Generation Unleashed.
Email: chris@citylifechurch.co.za

Desiree Spolander
Desiree has been the Youth Pastor of her church, for the last year, however she
is on her way out as she has felt the call to go and serve as a missionary in
Thailand. Needless to say, the lessons she has learnt are invaluable for any up
and coming Youth Pastor/worker, as she has had years of experience working with
young people, and for a male myself it is always important to be learning from
those that face different challenges, in this case, being a women in ministry.
I am also from a non-denominational background and now work in a Methodist
church, as such it is important to hear from those from different backgrounds, and
in this case Desiree comes from a church which in practice is a Baptist church.

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Her ministry is to those who are in grade 9 12, and they meet on a Friday evening
from 19:00 21:30, as well as during the 10:00 service on a Sunday morning.
Email: desiree@ruc.org.za

Philleo Ngwane
Philleo, or Phil as he is known, has grown up in his church, New Creation,
Robinhills. He took over as Youth Pastor 3 years ago, and has taken it from
strength to strength. His cultural background is worlds apart from mine, yet we
share a very close friendship, and it is for this that I look up to him and seek to
learn a lot from him.
His ministry is to grade 8 12s and they meet on a Friday evening from 19:00
22:00.
Email: phillip.ngwane@gmail.com

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF PEOPLE WITHIN AGE GROUP


All of the above Pastors work with people who are currently in high school, grades
8/9-12. These people are also referred to as teenagers. In many respects this age

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group is very difficult to influence, but at the same time, failure to do so, will more
than likely result in a person never coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus as Lord
and Savior.
These years are when a young person molds their beliefs, understands their world
view, and develops their own opinions on matters. This is true right across the
board, black, white, male female, it does not matter. Young people, especially
those in this age group, will often make the decision as whether or not they wish
to be Christian during this phase.
As this group of people inevitably will become the guardians of the church in the
future, it is safe to say that the very future of the church rests in the hands of those
that seek to reach the lost in this age group, and we need to be intentional about
doing so with a view of educating our youth so as to empower them to become the
guardians we wish them to be.
People who are in this age group are often described as; difficult, opinionated,
stubborn, impulsive, care-free, reckless and adventurous, the list can go on
forever. They are, especially in the modern era, heavily influenced by the media,
this includes music, television shows, movies as well as Hollywood as a whole.
(SABC. 2009)
Their tastes in what is fashionable and what is not change overnight, and their
language is ever evolving.

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These people are extremely dynamic and can often be a barometer as to the tone
of the society around them.
This group of people is often seen as a microcosm of the society they find
themselves in, one can learn a lot about the society, or where it is going, by looking
into this age group.

KEY NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE IN THE AGE GROUP


With the above in mind, one can begin to unpack what the key needs are of those
within this age group. It is clear from the outset that the greatest need within this
group is the need to belong, to have community, and to be seen and noticed. It is
a very image driven age group, and as such their key needs reflect this.
A recent study which has been conducted by a national newspaper in South Africa,
The Mail and Guardian, titled; what is the biggest issue facing young people today?
Found that the greatest issue facing young people today is the effects of negative
stereotyping. (The Guardian: 2009)
However over and above the surface level needs is a desperate need for Christ.
The media as a whole, as well as the rest of the world, have recognized the
importance and significance of this age group, which is why they drive everything

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at them. As a church it is imperative that we do not lose them in the face of heavy
competition. How we do it will be discussed later.

VITAL MINISTRY PRINCIPLES


As much as this ministry is of great importance and significance, one can often be
caught up the action and doing of the ministry. We need to at all-time hold onto
what the vital principles are for this ministry.
Despite their sizeable presence, youth are a surprisingly underserved
and under engaged demographic. Young people increasingly face
challenges that are universal- few opportunities to contribute to their
communitys development, rising unemployment rates, difficulty in
accessing education, mounting health concerns and the degradation of
their environments. (YCI: 2009)

Care:
Young people, especially in this generation, are in desperate need to be cared for.
It would seem that in the business of the world that we find ourselves in, we have
forgotten how to connect with each other in a meaningful, compassionate way.
Youth work is full of ethical tensions and dilemmas. As one of the
occupations working within the welfare system it shares with social
work, nursing and medicine the classic dilemmas between respecting
individual choice and promoting the public good; and between
empowering and controlling. (Banks, 1999:29)

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As youth pastors it is imperative that we care for all those that are within our
ministries. Young people desperately need to be cared for, to be shown that they
matter, and to be made to feel that they are needed. These are key human needs,
however with young people the need is compounded.

Compassion:
Young people go through more in their lives than most adults will experience in
their entire adult life. They are confronted with questions that impact their very own
identity. It is clear that those responsible for working with young people understand
where their young people are at, what they are being confronted with, what life
really is like for them, what they are constantly exposed to and the type of people
they are interacting with.
One strand of evidence to support the view that family background is linked to
difficulties in independent living is the high risk of homelessness being brought
up by a lone parent also increases the risk of experiencing social problems
(Harding, 2004: 124)
Our society has forgotten the youth, and as such, this generation is at a very real
risk of fulfilling the idea of a lost generation.

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With that in mind we need to be showing compassion to them, this means that we
see where they are and meet them where they are, not where we expect them to
be.

Community:
There is no doubt that people have a massive desire to belong. It is so strong that
ire can impact who a person actually is and who they believe they need to be. The
sense of belonging can ultimately drive a person in the direction off their life. For
young people that desire is made even stronger in the sense that often they
themselves are not even sure who they are yet. It is for this reason that youth
programs have to make space to create a sense of community and belonging. This
is not a dream world or made up desire to be friendly, but an intentional,
constructive and genuine drive to make people feel welcome and accepted. To
give young people a place where they will want to come back to, not because the
program is amazing but because they feel a deep connection to the people that
are around them.

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Accountability:
This is often an aspect that people dont like to think about or put into practice.
However, without there can never be a functioning ministry. Young people are
exposed to things that even I, as a young person myself, could never ever imagine
being faced with at the age that young people are exposed to in this modern age.
It is therefore imperative that a culture of accountability is introduced at all levels
of ministry, not to enforce a set of rules and regulations, but to help young people
face all that they are exposed to knowing that there is a support system behind
them, helping them and walking with them through these important developmental
years.

Relevance:
Something that all too often is not followed, yet without it your ministry will always
be a lame and boring place, compounding the stereotype that church is a place
where old people go.
Reaction is more of an attitude. It is always negative. It is a knee-jerk
response that rejects culture simply because it is culture. Reaction takes
place before and kind of explanation can be given. Reaction is given
without much thought and is based more on emotional preference.
(Vukich, 2002:64)

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If we want young people, in this generation to be attending church, we need to get


off our proverbial high horses and meet them where they are at. This does not
mean that we water down the Gospel, or lose our fundamental beliefs and
practices, but instead that we discover what excites this generation, how do they
communicate, what they actually want in terms of what they look for from the
places they attend for social outings.
Young people need to be made to feel they are special and important, and what
better way to do that than to discover where they are and take your ministry to a
place that meets them where they are, instead of always expecting them to meet
you where you are at, and then wondering why young people are never excited to
be there.

Restoration:
Finally, but by no means least important, is the need for restoration. So often in
our pursuit of being relevant or providing all of the above, we seem to lose sight of
what it is we are truly meant to be doing, and that is to bring about restoration
among young people.

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The ever-growing moral void is manifest in behavior in every corner of our society.
Our schools have been especially hard-hit by the rise of postmodern amorality.
(Muellar, 2006:138)
As youth pastors that is what it is all about, yes all of the above are needs and they
need to be met, however if we forget who we are and what we are here to do, we
lose the soul of our ministry, and instead run the risk of becoming a social club with
no depth and real growth.

CONCLUSION
Ministering to youth is incredibly challenging, yet even more rewarding. We cannot
even begin to imagine the impact we are having on this generation through the
faithful work that we are doing. However, one can never lose sight on the why and
the how of what we do what we do.
One of the critical issues facing Christian Churches today is that o maintaining the
allegiance of youth. (McGrady. 2006:34)
This age group is ever changing and evolving, and if we do not adapt and remain
relevant to them in the way that we reach out to them, we risk the very survival of
the churches we come from.

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Everyone will have a different approach, and each will put in place lesson learnt in
a different way, however what is important to remember, is that whatever we do,
as Youth Pastors, we must be doing it from a desire to bring restoration and
transformation within the lives of those within our ministry.

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APPENDIX

Questions asked and discussed with youth pastors:

1)
How did you get into ministry, and how long have you been doing what
you do?
2)

Why do you do what you do? (Why are you a youth pastor)

3)

Who do you minister to and when?

4)

What are some of the key challenges you face in your ministry?

5)
What have you noticed to be some of the vital needs of those in your
ministry?
6)

How do you see your ministry? (Its importance, impact, etc)

7)

What vision do you have for the future of your ministry?

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Banks, S. 1999. Ethical Issues in Youth Work. Routledge: New York


Harding, J. 2004. Making it Work: The keys to success for young people living
independently. The Policy Press: Great Britain
McGrady, A. 2006. International Handbook of the Religious, Moral and Spiritual
Dimensions in Education. Springer: The Netherlands
Muellar, W. 2006. Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture: Bridging Teen Worldviews
and Christian Truth. InterVarsity Press: Illinois
SABC, et al. 2011. Key issues affecting the Youth of South Africa today. [Online]
Available.
http://www.sabc.co.za/news/f1/baac7b0047fe3e60907bd103564fc271/Keyissues-affecting-the-Youth-of-South-Africa-today-20110817
The Guardian. 2009. What is the biggest issue facing young people today? [Online]
Available.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/poll/2009/apr/15/young-people-

poll.
Vukich, L. 2002. Timeless Youth Ministry: A Handbook for successfully reaching
todays youth. Zondervan Publishing; New York

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YCI.

2009.

Our

Approach

to

Youth

http://www.yci.org/html/what/

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Development.

[Online]

Available.

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