A few months ago I ordered Houston Heflin’s book Youth Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Youth Ministry. I only read the first few chapters and never finished the entire book. I am hoping to go back and finishing reading this great book soon. In the first chapter, Heflin does something that most youth ministry books do not do, he talks about the youth pastor’s and youth leaders personal walk with God. During this chapter he also gives his definition of youth ministry which is the best definition I have ever heard.
Youth ministry is a Spirit-led discipleship process by which God works through Christian adults to lead teens into relationship with God and to Christlike maturity as part of the body of Christ, the church.
What I love about this definition is the fact it deals with the adult’s walk with God before anything else. Before someone can minister to students they must be growing in their own faith. If we are not growing in our walk with God than we have nothing to give students except fun, games, and some cheap entertainment. But if we are growing in our walk with God we have Biblical insight and real life faith to give them. God chooses to work through people. He can and will work through other things you may do in youth ministry, but God desires to use spiritual adults to point students to Jesus and a mature faith. To all my fellow youth workers, focus on your walk with God above all else. Do not lay your walk with God on the altar for games, fun, and entertainment in youth ministry! We must be walking with God and growing in our faith before we can be effective youth workers.
Houston Heflin, Ed.D is a member of the North American Professors of Christian Education (NAPCE) and the Association of Youth Ministry Educators (AYME). He is on faculty at Abilene Christian University, where he teaches courses on ministry, and is a frequent speaker at national conferences and workshops.