Youth leadership isn’t about being a good babysitter.
It’s not about keeping young people entertained, or even teaching them to follow a set of behaviors. It has everything to do with connecting them to Jesus Christ, and partnering with the Holy Spirit to encourage growth and development spiritually, emotionally, and socially. We believe that effective youth ministry is all about cultivating a great climate for young people to grow in.
Youth development begins with recognizing the basic needs young people have:
- to love God and their neighbor
- to have safe environments
- to enjoy equal and productive education
- to benefit from good health
- to be respected participants in decisions that affect their own lives
It continues by placing the focus of ministry on developing relationships with and investing in young people themselves, not just programs. That is the real heart of the youth development concept. It forces us to ask different questions that are centered in the power of God instead of our own creativity and energy. Ministry becomes less about how can we increase attendance and more about what do my young people need, and how does Jesus Christ meet those needs? We affirm this holistic approach to youth ministry–one committed to enabling health and spiritual maturity, not simply drawing crowds.
We’re passionate about updating the conversation on youth ministry, because seeing our young people grow into thriving adults of spiritual depth is the reason we do what we do. Major cultural shifts require that we consistently evaluate (and when necessary rethink) our methods, in order to faithfully express the truth of the Gospel in an authentic and meaningful way. This means we must purposefully address the many factors that can either contribute to or detract from healthy growth in the young people of our communities. This is why the Territorial Youth Department is aiming to unify the discussions concerning youth ministry around the concept of comprehensive youth development.
The 4 Points of Contact
In a youth development model of ministry, programs are seen as a means to an end. Properly assessing the effectiveness and reach of our programs and efforts compels us to consider them in light of their relationship to the needs of the specific young people in our ministry communities. To that end, the Territorial Youth Department has developed the 4 Points of Contact to renew purpose and to bring focus to youth programming in The Salvation Army. Learn more about the 4 Points of Contact and discover ways you can look for them in the lives of your young people and your Corps community.