10 Principles Of Teen Spiritual Formation (2/2)

 The balance between program and presence has always been a hot topic in YTH Ministry

The balance between program and presence has always been a hot topic in YTH Ministry

1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” 

If the Lord tarries and the Church is in the hands of the young people in our YTH Ministries across the country, what will the Church look like in 10 years? 

Preparing The Next Generation

At a time when the hearts of young people are failing, it is a great time for spiritual YTH Leadership. The ability for teenagers to lead The Next Great Awakening is completely dependent upon the YTH Leadership in the Church today. Last week we gave you five principles to help build the spiritual formation in teenagers.

Here are the last five: 

6.  We must model family in YTH Ministry to this generation 

We are not only raising a fatherless generation in America today. We are raising a motherless and a sibling-less generation. Too many of our students do not know their parents or their brother or sister. With the decay of family in our society, we must define family better in the Church today. If we can do that we gain a huge advantage in reaching this generation.

And Christianity is a great example of what family truly is.  The spiritual formation that students need most begins at home. Ultimately, it is carried over to the Church, but, it begins in the home. And that will require YTH Ministry helping the family to fulfill the spiritual development of teens and children. 

Prax - Try this to create family in YTH Ministry:

USE YOUR OWN FAMILY TO MODEL A HEALTHY FAMILY UNIT

HAVE STUDENTS OVER TO YOUR HOME SO THEY CAN SEE A HEALTHY FAMILY FUNCTION

MAKE SURE THERE ARE MARRIED ADULT LEADERS ON THE TEAM

A SERIES ON FAMILY ANNUALY - AND INCLUDE FAMILY CONCEPTS IN SERIES MONTHLY

7.  Spiritual formation must include small groups of some sort

(I believe the main model of YTH Ministry must include powerful services that are based upon the presence of God. Students must learn this. I’ll talk about this in a moment.)

But, it is also important to process theology periodically with students and adults in a smaller setting that is safe for questions and answers and exploration. To do this effectively you must have quality small group leaders. That requires mentoring and training of young adults and adult leaders. The small group setting is a great place for exploration and discussion. Something that is important for student learning. 

As you will see in the next point, small group is not something that should take the place of a service setting. For reasons I will detail later. But, the spiritual formation that can come in a small group setting can be one of the greatest assists to the discipleship of students. 

Prax - Maybe it will look like this:

BREAKING INTO SMALL GROUPS IN THE YTH SERVICE AFTER THE MESSAGE

HOLDING ‘POP-UP’ GROUPS CITY-WIDE WEEKLY OR MONTHLY

ASSIGNED MENTORING GROUPS WITH ADULT LEADERS AND STUDENTS

8.  Every YTH Ministry must create powerful spirit-led services/movements

There is no substitute for the work of the Holy Spirit. We can plan all that we want, but, his presence is like nothing else. It can change a student suddenly. His presence can do more in the moment than we can do in a year. Our students are not in a dynamic setting where the gifts of the Spirit are moving. This must become a more practiced discipline in YTH Ministry.

We have to remember the students are sitting in a classroom setting for seven hours a day. Why would they want to do that at the YTH meeting again for another 90 minutes? We must provide an experiential moment where the gifts of the Spirit are operating. That will be attractive to students.

Prax - Try these principles to build a greater presence of God in the YTH service

SIGHT AND SOUND WORSHIP (Video, quality sound equipment, and setting can be done cheap with YouTube playlists, lighting, graphics, and bumper videos)

TEXTILE (animate and touch) WORSHIP WITH STATIONS - This may be a sand table to write and erase sins, a wall to place prayer requests on, or a cross to nail sins to. Use student talents like Spoken Word and poetry presentations.

TRAIN WORSHIP TEAMS TO CELEBRATE AND INTIMATE (There is often a lack of energy in worship because of the inexperience of young musicians. This will require using tracks or loops and using young adults on the team to supplement and train talent.)

9. Discipleship intensive weekends quarterly

One of the great settings for spiritual growth is a retreat type weekend. So much can be gained with the focus and emphasis of a weekend that is set aside for spiritual formation. This is similar to a monastic or simplicity weekend. With the education emphasis of GenX, there would be great interest for students to take a weekend away for theology study.

I did this early in my YTH Ministry and it was a hit. Students couldn’t wait to sign up. We only took a few at a time so that added to the intrigue of the weekend. What we saw in students was compressed in a short amount of time but yielded long-term results. 

Prax - An intensive weekend looks like this with a little planning

SMALL GROUP SIGN-UP (The restriction adds urgency to get involved)

FRIDAY NIGHT - SATURDAY FORMAT (Time for teaching, q&a, fasting, prayer walks,etc)

PRODUCE JOURNALS AND READING LIST

GUEST SPEAKER WITH THEOLOGY/APOLOGETICS BACKGROUND

10. Every YTH Leader must evaluate their own personal spiritual formation

Where do you spend most of your time as a leader? Programming, event planning, and service coordination cannot be your main point of emphasis. You need people around you who can handle those things. Even volunteers. Your main responsibility is to set a table for teenagers to develop spiritually.

This is critical to the sustainability of the Church. Because what the students are learning in our setting is what will shape them into the kind of leaders they will be for the Church. Consider your lean. Because it is shaping the culture of your YTH Ministry.

Prax - Self-leadership questions

WHERE DO YOU SPEND MOST OF YOUR TIME?

HOW MUCH DO YOU STUDY? DEVELOP STUDY HABITS AT LEAST 16 HOURS WEEKLY

RECRUIT AND DELEGATE VOLUNTEER LEADERS WHO CAN EXECUTE ADMINISTRATION

Timely YTH Ministry

With these questions, I'm asking you what is your lean? What is your default? Where do you spend most of your time? Planning creative events, setting up the pit, or buying gold fish at the pet store to swallow? Because your time management is becoming the culture of your organization.

We have to define the difference between CHILD-LIKE and CHILD-ISH in YTH Ministry better.  Students today can be challenging much more than they are at the church. They can handle it. I believe they want it. It would just require that youth leaders are not only able, but also, willing. 

Are you a Program-based or Presence-based YTH Ministry? Is more time spent on the creative element or the spiritual content?

The larger question in this discussion is which model of Student Ministry is most important at this time for the North American Church? Because where we spend our time will become the culture of YTH Ministry in our nation. And the setting our students are being shaped to lead The Next Great Awakening.

Jeff Grenell