I have been a Youth Pastor for about eight years of my life and I have traveled the country seeing many different models of youth ministry.
Taken from my blog at JeremyDonovan.me
When I first got into ministry, we started to put together a great and entertaining service. A top of the line Worship Leader who looked cool (If skinny jeans were out back then he would have worn them) Funny Games that a cool intern ran and then semi good speaking from the one and only, me. We grew the youth ministry a bit and it was usually a flawless service. But after a few months I started to notice the lights looked the same, the game even though different every week looked the same and the kids looked at me like we have seen this.
I began to pray and seek God and felt in my heart that this was their ministry. I have had them on the side lines and they need reach their Generation. It came to my heart, “Youth Ministry is not just for youth to be ministered too but youth to minister through.” I didn’t know how to get there. I grew up seeing “The Youth Pastor Show” There was nothing wrong with that at the time in fact I got a lot out of it. But things where changing the cool lights and fear factor games had all been seen. The shock factor I had as a kid seeing the first intelligent light was no big deal to the kids that grew up with them.
“The Youth Pastor Show” had to end. It was a cool model in the ninetys but this generation is interactive. All of the video game companies know this, this is why they have almost removed controllers from the games and made it completely interactive as well as online to play others. The Television knows this, hence the reason for 3D TVs and interactive television. Twitter, Facebook, Google +, World of Warcraft, Temple Run, YouTube, all interactive and a places where anyone can have a presence, they are reaching millions. If we want to reach this generation we need to do the same.
Eight years ago the first thing I did was release all the “stars” of the show and begin to allow the youth to lead worship, run the games and pray. Basically all of the stage stuff that we had as a part of the “Show” for them to watch. At first the worship wasnt as good, but it got better. The games didn’t go the way I would have thought and you couldn’t hear some of the prayers because the kids where too nervous to speak in the mic. But something crazy happened, the youth group began to grow. The students began to invite their friends without me asking them too, because they were involved in the night, it started to become a place that was interactive.
After a few years I even have started to have the ones that want to preach tag team with me and when they are ready preach on their own. I have come to learn my job as a pastor is not to give them a show but equip them in THEIR ministry. They will reach their generation not me.
I am so big on interactive youth ministry. We have to look at better ways to do this. The world is finding their ways and I don’t want us to be the ones standing and still trying to put on a show when the world has turned into an interactive place.
I tell the kids all the time, “If I die tomorrow, I want you to miss me. But this ministry should not stop because you all are the ones doing it.”
We have some ideas in the works besides allowing the students to be the ministry instead of just sit on the side lines watching the show. We are looking at a funnel system where people can tweet during service and after approval pop up on the screen. We are building an actual “Sevenym Game” This will take about two years to beat and it combines life goals with an online game and points. There are probably so many ideas from different Pastors on how to make youth ministries interactive. I would love to hear them and work together on how to bring youth ministry to the future of interactive everything.