Editor’s Note: This is part two of a three part series on a new project initiated by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Student Ministry offices, called Excellence in Youth Ministry (EiYM). This project is designed to encourage and unite youth pastors around a set of shared Biblical values and the pursuit of personal and ministerial excellence.
Youth ministry is not a cookie cutter effort. It varies from church to church, because every church, town, and congregation is different. It is a very different thing to be in an urban setting where you are drawing students from 32 different middle schools and high schools than it is to be in a small town where you draw only from two. Methodologies should always reflect a thorough understanding of the setting, people, and culture. However, despite great contrasts in ministry approaches, the mission remains the same. The driving force behind reaching students is the biblical mandate to lead people to a saving knowledge of Christ.
The basis for Excellence in Youth Ministry is a set of biblical values to which we would commit and support in “deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18b) EiYM believes youth ministry is best described and defined utilizing four essential values: Love, Investment, Proclamation, and Proficiency.
Jesus commanded us to love God with all of our heart. To love God with all of our heart is to do so with all of our capacity. Our waking thoughts are about Him, our daily tasks are guided by Him, our relational interactions point to Him, and our evening prayers exalt Him. Our youth ministries need to imitate this kind of love, and let it fuel a passion for all we do.
Jesus commanded us to love God with all our soul. To love God with that which will stretch into eternity (our soul) is to be fully committed to all that will last forever. We grow through the investment of others, and we should likewise be committed to growing others through our investment in them. This is a key part of the Christian life.
Jesus commanded us to love God with all of our mind. When we spend concentrated time in His Word, we are in large part fulfilling this command. We also, as ministers of the Gospel, are responsible to teach God’s Word to others. We must do this with great clarity and accuracy. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)
Jesus commanded us to love God with all of our strength. Our call to Christ is a bid to come and die, to give our all. There is no room for laziness and incompetency when gazing at the cross. Just to maintain the activity schedule alone, youth pastors should and need to be the hardest working people in the church. Also, because of the age group they work with, youth pastors have to be equipped for integrity, sensibility, and maturity in all things. Every effort must be given to accomplish the task with excellence.
If we are ever to see generations of students come to know the Lord, and to become fully-devoted followers of Christ, leaders must make a commitment to pursue their vocation with passion. They must do their work with excellence and great effort, remembering the source of our strength for labor is God, Himself, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” (Col. 1:28-29, NASB, emphasis added)
Coming in Part Three: Commitment and Accountability