Signs of a Thriving Youth Ministry

by Charlotte Long, Youth Ministries

What I know has happened in Youth Ministry in this church before my time and what I am privileged to watch happen again, is astounding. It is something that I very much expected to see, that I was in fact hired to foster, but it is still an amazing thing to watch. What I am talking about is the nurturing of a culture of time and effort into youth ministry; a church that sees the long-term benefits, a church that supports children even if they are not related to them or know their parents, that sees how invested and excited youth can send electrical currents into the rest of the community; a church that supports the forceful pulling of God into our space, into our home. That is the magic of teens and God. There is no hiding or blushing. It is all Joy with a capital J and Big Questions and Good, Hard Work and Calling Jesus to us in every moment.

Last year our High School Youth Group met dedicatedly every Sunday night. We were often 3 kids, sometimes 4. But no one cared! We showed up and prayed and played and planned that Service Trip to Kentucky! This year, we've grown wonderfully. Our group is a solid bunch of brave wonderers, from different schools and backgrounds, excited to learn and excited to hang out. How lucky are we! On top of that, FJ Phillips is a Youth Group leader with me. FJ is a Youth Group alum from when Jason ran the Youth Group and it's exciting to have him. Plus we get a whole lot more done because- whoa, can that man clean a kitchen!

Our Junior High class is filled to the brim of expectant Confirmands, attending Sunday School and getting to know one another before formal classes start in January. They are moving away from the classroom environment they used to know and getting more comfortable with discussion, with sharing, with opening up to each other. They connected beautifully during the lock-in and will probably continue to during our Service Project in the city this month and our Holiday Party in December. The foundation continues to be built!

Our Science and God discussion with Chris Hardman 2 weeks ago was an incredible success. Both the Jr. High class and High School class were attentive and inquisitive. And of course, Chris was brilliant and a wonderful teacher. Once a month, I meet with other Youth Ministers from the North Shore area and we discuss our groups and how we can get them together. The creating of a culture includes 7th graders seeing High Schoolers engaged at that discussion, seeing High Schoolers attending Youth Group and thinking, "I get to do that someday". It means that adults see teens speaking during our canvas season, see the Confirmation Class sitting together in church in our PJs after our lock-in, and everyone wonders, "How can I be involved? How can I help them thrive?" It means that more and more, I get stopped by adults who have very little connection to the Youth Group asking, "How is Youth Group going? Are you doing Heifer Project again? We want to know so we do our donations through you! Where are you going on the Service Trip?" And this is PRECEISELY what has been happening!! Truly, God is with us!
As always, if you're interested in any of the above events or learning more about how we can continue to foster our Youth Ministry culture, feel free to shoot me an email at

Happy Harvest!