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Autonomous (capable of independent function) Youth Ministry -Part 2

Our obvious goal is to reach students with the gospel but are we just as passionate about developing them to the point of embracing an autonomous faith that is contagious? Developing autonomous students within youth ministries is vital to the longevity and stability of our influence in their lives.

In Part 1, I mentioned the principle from 2 Timothy 2:2 of reproducing reproducers. I believe this is the most effective plan for world evangelization ever given. This plan is not only about turning people from “darkness to light” (Acts 26:18) but grounding them in the faith (Colossians 2:6-7).

We hear a great deal today about the drop-out rate of high school post-graduates from the faith and the church. I am not sure which of the myriad of statistics you have heard but they usually range in the 70 – 90 percentiles. In the first chapter of The Greenhouse Project, Cultivating Students of Influence, I challenge these statistics with this thought, “You cannot lose what you never had.”

I am not saying that students do not abandon the church or their faith but I am saying that these stats are symptomatic of a deeper issue. Ministries that are more committed to growth through multiplication than addition are not plagued with the same overwhelming drop-out rates. Ministries who are more concerned about making disciples than church members see greater stability in individual lives.

The idea is that we need to have intentional ministry that is focused on life change, not life management. I would like to suggest three concepts (I have developed these concepts more fully in The Greenhouse Project, Cultivating Students of Influence.) that will provide a strategic template for cultivating students:

Enlist – This generation is attracted to a cause! They follow people of passion whose lives are authentic. We must say, as the apostle Paul indicated in I Corinthians 11:1, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

Equip – Discipleship is not “one size fits all.” So in order to meet every student where they are and move them forward in their faith, we must formulate a “growth plan” or strategy for each student.

Engage – For too long, we have tried to protect students from the culture and it is time to engage them as culture-shapers. We must actively engage them in evangelism, discipleship, missions and community service.

As the apostle Paul said, “Think on these things,” and let me know what you think. In Part 3 we will develop the concept of autonomous youth leaders.

Autonomous Youth Ministry: Part 3

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