As I reflected after celebrating our shared ministry over the last 10 years, one particular complement has stood out and resonated with me in these days beyond the joy of the morning.

 

A few youth and a couple former youth, now young adults, thanked me for creating a space for them where they could make great friends and feel belonging.

 

Mic drop!

 

In youth ministry, it takes years to see the fruits of your labor most of the time. And that is part of the deep joy of staying in a call in ministry for over 10 years, I get to see some of that goodness.

 

Nationally, youth ministry sometimes slips into a model where the group becomes all about the one leader. Or youth groups can become all about the insiders and cool kids, leaving many not feeling “cool” enough to be a part of the group. Or they can become so disconnected from the larger church, that they are their own organization with their own set of values.

 

One of the books that has stuck with me in my nearly 20 years of youth ministry is “Sustainable Youth Ministry” by Mark DeVries. Though it was published in 2008, it still has so many truths about what makes youth ministry sustainable for the long haul.

 

Here are a few of DeVries’ markers I want to highlight:

  1. Volunteers are essential – Wow oh wow, have I had some great youth volunteers over the last 10 years. I can count more than 15 people that are deeply involved in the last 10 years. Our volunteers come in all ages, all experience levels, and from a spectrum of belief (and doubt) … and I love that. I want our youth to be exposed to all sorts of people who find their way to faith and this church.
  2. Making friendship contagious builds the foundation for the youth to be includers … if you have seen our current group in action, being includers is their KEY feature!
  3. Content and programs are less important to get right, but creating a culture where young people feel welcome, love, and belonging… now that’s the work of God.
  4. Student leaders are essential. When they are excited about something, follow that and make it happen. As the staff and professional, I will curate the idea to help make sure it works, but finding those natural leaders in the group to take charge is great stuff.

 

So after 10 years at BSPC and nearly 20 in youth ministry, I have never wanted it to be about me. I wanted youth to look at me and see how I orient my life towards a life of faith and God. I want to manage details, curate experiences, and encourage relationships so that one day, young people say they are grateful for friends at church and for a space they feel belonging. That’s what ministry with young people can be and that is the joy of working with youth at BSPC.

 

-Written by Brittany Porch

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2 Comments

  1. Judy and. Jeff Bergen February 7, 2024 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Brittany,

    My wife, Judy, and I don’t get here often, but when we do, we are continually in awe of what you accomplish every Sunday – and the rest of the week – through your dedication to these children, as it is a reflection of your abiding Faith to God and this church.

    That is rare gift. Thank you!

    Judy and Jeff Bergen

  2. Campbell Martha February 7, 2024 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    Not to mention that you contributed to the youth population with the loving help of your husband. 😉

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