Mission of the Youth Ministry

What is the goal in all we’re doing?

What is the big point of all we do in Youth Ministry? If we don’t know, it can be hard to know when to celebrate, and when the difficulties are worth it! That’s why we’re defining the three big things we want to see happen in our students:

We seek to help each student take a step toward

1) treasuring God more,

2) loving other believers and the lost more,

3) and engaging further in God’s mission.

Passionately treasure God above all things

God is the infinite, all-loving, perfect creator of the whole universe, and is deserving of all glory and honor (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1–14; Revelation 4:11). We’re told the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37; See also Luke 10:27; Mark 12:30; Deuteronomy 6:5). Yet, in our sin, we’ve all fallen short of God’s glory and exchanged the greatness of God for other treasures (Romans 3:23, 1:23). The core of our sin problem, then, is rejecting God as our greatest treasure who deserves to be loved with all our hearts.

But why do we say “treasure” God, not just “believe”? It’s because the kind of belief we should have is a particular kind of belief—not merely intellectual, but affectional and relational. It is definitely a trust and reliance (Hebrews 11:1, 11:6), but one more like relying on a Father we love than on a boss we hate (1 John 3:1).

The Word compels us to call ourselves and our students to not just acknowledge God exists, but to worship Him (Matthew 15:8–9; Mark 7:6–7; James 2:19), to love him (Matthew 22:37), to seek Him and His Kingdom like lost treasure (Matthew 13:44–46), and to desire Him more than everything else in this life (Psalm 73:25-26; Luke 14:26–33, Philippians 1:23, 3:7–8).

Jesus invites us to embrace Him as our bread of life that satisfies our soul’s deepest longings (John 6:35). We’re to find our deepest joy in the Lord (Philippians 3:1, 4:4; Psalm 43:4). The overflow of our life should be praise towards God for how good and exceedingly wonderful He is to us (Psalm 63:3).

Because this is the nature of the faith we must have and grow in, we’ve chosen the word “treasure” to help challenge the intellectual understanding of faith so prevalent in our culture. This expounds our church’s mission statement, which says we raise “worshipful” servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. True worship is a treasuring and valuing of the One who is worshiped.

This must spread, which is why we seek to reach and raise students in this. We’re looking for ways they can see the greatness of Jesus and then contrast that with the emptiness of the world and the flesh.We desire to see students choose Jesus over other pursuits, and bring Him into all of their pursuits. This includes helping them desire and have time with Him in prayer and the Word, worship him truly in song, and choose faithfulness because they desire His nearness and promises more than the promises of sin. As students treasure God more, it will be natural for them to speak more of the goodness of God (for we talk about what we love) and adjust their lives for more of Jesus (for we do what we love). Through this, students will experience a deeper joy, and God will be glorified as the great God and treasure He is.

Sacrificially love other believers and the lost

As we’ve been set right with our Creator through the gospel, we have a new relationship to other people. The second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39; See also Luke 10:27; Mark 12:31). In fact, we’re told that the Law of Moses taught how to love others, and thus is fulfilled in love (Romans 13:8–10; Matthew 22:40).

Love is to mark every Christian, but is to be found in truth, not just in the ways our world or our flesh says is love (1 Corinthians 13:1–13; 1 John 5:2-3). Jesus commands us to love (John 15:12), and is Himself the greatest explanation of love (John 15:13; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 5:2, 25; 1 John 4:9–10) because God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). We as believers are commanded to love other believers as an expression of our love for God (1 John 4:20-21, 1 John 5:1) all empowered by His love for us (1 John 4:7). We’re to care for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3–4) and even bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-2).

This love is also to extend outward toward those who don’t know Jesus yet. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16). Jesus commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43–48; Luke 6:27–36), how much more those who are lost and hurting! This does not mean students love the ways of the world (1 John 2:15–17), but that they love others with the redemptive, sin-hating love Jesus has for us (Titus 2:11–14).

For students, this love for others and the lost is most clearly seen in their relationships with friends, family, the church, authority figures, those hurting and marginalized, and our community at large. We desire to see students loving God and integrated into the rest of the church, serving others and participating as full members of the Body. We encourage students to respect, love, and honor their parents. Our Youth Group and Salt Group programs seek to foster healthy community and friendships amongst students. Finally, we encourage students to be present in our community to represent and share the love of Jesus.

Joyfully engage in God’s mission

After Jesus paid for our sin and rose from the dead, he gave us a mission to accomplish: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20, See also Acts 1:8). Our very lives are to be lived in a way that God’s saving power would be known amongst all peoples of the earth (Psalm 67). Therefore, we build, train, and lead students to engage in this mission in two overlapping ways:

1) Evangelism: The gospel is good news, which means it must be shared. We are to work to persuade others (2 Corinthians 5:11)—to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). We want students equipped and empowered to share the gospel with friends at school, others around Moscow & Pullman, and abroad on mission trips.

2) Service: God has saved us for good works that we would walk in (Ephesians 2:10). We know that real faith includes “works” of faith (James 2:14–17). God calls us to lay down our lives and love others in deed (1 John 3:16–18). When we do so, we know we’re really serving Jesus (Matthew 25:35–40). We desire students to grow in the joy of sacrificing for others—sacrificing their comforts, time, energy, and even money to serve others in Christ’s name. This authenticates the message of the gospel, and brings God’s love to others in tangible form.

Partnering with Parents

We exist to partner with parents as an extension of the local church, not replace them. This means that we recognize that parents have far more influence over their children than we do in the Youth Ministry—just try just measuring hours together!

But this doesn’t make this partnership unimportant. Quite the opposite—we bless parents by surrounding their students with others from the local church who love the Lord and can speak into their student’s lives.

If parents of a student don’t love the Lord, we can seek to teach and care for the student in a way that helps them love and respect their parents as a witness to them. We also can be witnesses to them ourselves by the love and spiritual life we model.

When parents do love the Lord and are growing, we partner with them by supporting the Bible influence and teaching they are giving at home, and teaming together with them to best point their kids towards Jesus.

Because of this, Youth Leaders should seek to get to know the parents of students as best as they can. Salt Group leaders should seek to communicate with parents in a way that is clear. And, what we teach and do with students should be above reproach and a support to parents who love their kids.

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