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Article by Rachelle Wiggins
Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
Just before his ascension into heaven, Jesus gave this mandate to every Christian, regardless of time or culture. While this command can be carried out in any vocation, some feel a special calling into full-time Christian ministry in order to dedicate time and effort to the task of making disciples. When it comes to making disciples, there is no better time to shape a heart than in the early years of a person’s life. Research shows that 85% of decisions for Christ are made before the age of eighteen and countless life-altering decisions are made during the middle school and high school years. If your desire is to communicate the love of Jesus to today’s youth and guide their hearts towards knowing and loving God then consider a youth ministry major.
A large number of students who set out on a youth ministry path can already articulate a clear sense of “calling” on their lives. They often carry a sense of urgency for bringing the Gospel of Jesus to hurting teenagers, and greatly desire to make a difference in the lives of this generation. This sense of call is important as a ministry career is challenging and constantly changing. Yet it can be indescribably rewarding for those committed to giving themselves in service to the Lord. In addition to a sense of calling, some personal traits and skills that may further reinforce your choice of major include:
In a degree where who you are is every bit as important as what you know, youth ministry demands a high level of integrity and a vibrant, active faith. Many programs emphasize hands-on volunteer work in a ministry setting and often require a ministry internship. Depending on your college, it’s possible you will attend special seminars, take developmental psychology and courses that prepare you for spiritual counseling and youth and family crisis intervention. Other classes you can expect to take include:
Most often a degree in youth ministry leads to a career in traditional church ministry. Youth pastor, family pastor and youth ministry director are the most common choices. But some graduates find their way into other ministry roles like Christian school teacher, community youth director, para-church ministry, camp ministry or youthwork overseas or in an inner-city setting. If you desire a career that focuses on bringing the Gospel to adolescents in a culturally relevant way and on making an eternal impact on the next generation, then welcome to a major in youth ministry!
By Amber Gragert
Growing up you may remember sitting in a Sunday school class listening to your teacher tell Bible stories and life lessons by way of skits, coloring pages, and felt boards. Those days are long gone, and the difficulties facing young people even 10 years ago are quite different from those of today's generation.
Youth groups are not all fun and games - in large part the youth culture today is hurting and struggling, and the help of Godly and vigilant youth pastors and workers is critical for the spiritual health of the coming generations. Suicide, for instance, is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-24 according to the CDC in 2015. We live in a complex and increasingly digital era placing new pressures on young people which places new expectations on youth pastors and workers today. Though many things have changed and altered our world, God's love is still the same, and we all ultimately still need it just the same - therefore the importance of focused training on how to deliver that message and support the modern hurting youth is crucial.
The basis of a Children's and Youth Ministry degree will likely be Christian studies, in which students will study to more fully understand the history of Christianity and the development of Christian doctrine - as well as an understanding of other religions in our modern world. With this understanding students grasp what it is to guide and nurture the Christian faith of young people today through focused communication and teaching. In the specialty Children and Youth Ministry program, students learn to effectively articulate Biblical philosophy in youth ministry, counsel adolescents in any given scenario or setting, organize and administrate youth programs, and understand current youth problems. A more extensive bachelor’s program will even go on to equip students with the professional skills necessary to organize, plan, and even develop entire Spirit-led youth ministry programs.
Course work will include classes such as: Bible study, New and Old Testament studies, foundations of church ministries, theology and apologetics, foundations of ministry, hermeneutics, children and family ministries, pastoral counseling, leadership in ministry, marriage and family relationships etc. Then there is of course hands-on learning through internships where students also learn creative methods of communication and teaching children, among other things. There will also be a focus on recognizing signs of distress and crisis in adolescent lives and how to get them the appropriate help and/or counseling necessary.
"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart form it."
As with all things pertaining to godliness - students will be challenged to think biblically about all facets of life, learn to develop their spirituality and faith in themselves and how to help cultivate that in others as well. This magnifies and grows student ministry skills and teaches students how to engage the world around them. Students are also challenged to think biblically about all aspects of life which aids in Christ-centered children's and family ministries. Let the Master Potter mold and shape you into a useful tool to do His good work through your work with the modern young people of today.