As we think about all the change of the last several years, it is important to note that some things remain the same. That became the focus of our conversation with Donny Parrish, executive director of Lifeword, on a recent episode of the Student Ministry Matters podcast. Donny has been involved with and an advocate for student ministry for nearly 50 years. Donny shared with us four foundational items to good youth ministry:
• Student ministry workers need to be communicators. We have the greatest story of all to tell, the story of Jesus. It is important that we actively work to be better communicators. There are lots of ways to learn, but perhaps one of the most important things is to lean into your creativity. God has given us imaginations, so let’s us them.
• Student ministry workers need to be relationship builders. One of the best things you can do as a student ministry worker is to invest in the people that God has placed you with to serve. Spend time learning what your students love and are passionate about. Create opportunities where your students will know they are loved.
• Student ministry workers need to invest in parent ministry. That is going to look different in every situation, but it ultimately means that we should help our parents navigate discipling their students. We must stand ready to assist and realize that we are not their parents. We are there to help and equip.
• Student ministry is not the church. It is a part of the church. We must embrace this truth. Our student ministry may be active and strong, but it is not a stand-alone entity. Our goal should be to help our students embrace the life of the church. We should also work to help our more mature members embrace our students. When cross-generational ministry happens, long-term impact can be felt.
Student ministry methods will continue to change as the culture changes, but there are some things that are unchanging. These foundational issues will give us direction as we determine how to fulfill the ministry God has placed in front of us. Be sure to check out the rest of our conversation at studentministrymatters.podbean.com.