Stay Relevant in Youth Ministry by Building Relationships

Dec 2, 2021 9:00:00 AM / by Tera Michelson

I’m wearing my mom jeans and feeling the pressure. I can’t keep up. Pop culture references are often lost on me, as are the inner workings of Snapchat. As we youth leaders get older and further away from our teen years, it is a challenge to know the slang, get the humor, and identify the games, shows, clips, and books that engage our youth.

How do we keep youth ministry relevant in our students’ quickly changing, ever-evolving world? Where does Jesus apply?

It doesn’t matter where you find yourself on the swagger scale when you remember that

the unconditional love of God never goes out of style. There is no “aging out” of youth ministry. Our experience and focus keep us fresh. Instead of immersing ourselves in the pieces and parts of secular culture, let’s focus on the words of Micah 6:8: “What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Micah urges us to focus on relationships: with God, with those around us, and with the hurting world.

Walk Humbly: Connect to God

The most important, and sometimes the most challenging, act you can undertake as a church worker is stay connected with God. While you are busy filling everyone else’s cup, you must find fuel for yourself. Carve out time for worship. Sing, pray, read, and reflect. Invite and welcome God into a leading role in your life. Acknowledge God’s presence and activity in your everyday world.

Love Kindness: Link with Those around You

Find a faith family. Surround yourself with supportive, like-minded people. Recognize each other’s gifts and skills and challenge one another to live with purpose. Let down your guard and be real with a small group. Allow space and grace for mistakes and growth.

Do Justice: Build a Bridge to the Hurting World

Doing justice means loving those we’re told are unlovable, acting as an advocate, seeking equity when fairness isn’t enough, and leading with grace. Jesus was often found hanging out in sketchy areas with seedy characters. Follow God to the gray areas, the shadow spots, and the borderlands. Bring big love and fill your pockets with empathy and compassion.

Oh, sage youth worker, as you get older, you are only getting better! You are a wise, guiding light of hope and calm in the tumultuous teen world. You are bringing your students face to face with Jesus. Lace up your comfy shoes and hike up those cargo shorts: you’ve got this.

Topics: Youth Ministry

Tera Michelson

Written by Tera Michelson

Tera Michelson is a silver-haired youth leader, serving the church since 1994. She loves Jesus and teens. She is a pastor’s spouse, mother of three, and writes at the world’s loudest house on a hilly street in Ohio.


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