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3 Keys Toward A Deeper Youth Ministry

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” 1Cor. 3:6.

In that sentence are three more important keys toward making our ministry grow deeper (see previous post if you missed it).

I planted…

One reason many leaders are frustrated with the growth principle in their ministry is that we may be using a growth principle of watering when the seed is not yet there. Adam Griffin, a youth leader puts it more plainly “Maybe we never had them to begin with. We just didn’t know it. They may have spoken and acted Christian, but they never have followed Christ.

Pause for a moment and consider your young people: Are they new persons belonging to Christ?

It’s all to easy to assume, but whether our youth number 7 or 700, I think it is good to constantly consider that question and also to find ways to objectively evaluate your group according to that question. I speak as one who grew up in a Christian home,

I had access to the truth of the gospel and the work of Christ, but it was only years later that the knowledge became understanding and was applied to my life. And that happened because I heard the gospel anew. So never be hesitant to go back to the basics of the gospel (again and again) if you need to.

Apollos watered…

Two things I’d like to point out as you work on the growth stage of your ministry.

First, if you already are implementing some growth activities, consider if the young people are indeed receiving the care they need. Without water you would have no healthy plant. It matters not if we have clean water purified with the latest technology if our watering can has holes and none really reaches our plants. This can happen in a number of ways in our ministry, from giving Bible study guides that our youth never open, to messages that youth can not relate to and so tune out.

Evaluating the programs we do can help us see if we are being effective or if we need to change some things. In the GYMN seminar we state that growth is happening when youth are imitating and following Jesus. This can be a good guideline as you assess the activities you’ve been doing to help young people grow spiritually–are your youth really imitating and following Jesus?

The second thing I’ll point out is that someone planted, but someone else watered. I think that is a very important thing. The growth process sometimes takes a long time, maybe longer than a leader’s time in youth ministry. So growth in the life of young people shouldn’t be about one person and we should actively plan for continuing growth with others.

One way you can apply this is that you might consider continuing or building on the programs begun by former youth leaders. Another way is to consider how purposes you have set can go on even if you are no longer the leader of this ministry. It’s good to do this even if you don’t see yourself leaving in the near future as we never know when the Lord might call us elsewhere. This could mean passing on the vision and reasons of the ministry to others who show potential. It may also mean getting leaders and volunteers more involved and own the ministry.

But God gave the growth.

Taken alone the whole sentence could sound defeating—we plant, we water and our effort is has nothing to do with the result after all? But Paul doesn’t mean it like that. If you read the paragraph this sentence comes from, Paul affirms that our efforts do play a part and each one will receive a reward according to his labor (1 Cor. 3:8). Planting is important, watering is important, but this statement was meant to address pride in ourselves. I don’t know about you, but as a youth leader when growth happens in my ministry I tend to be proud of myself that I did something great. So I find this to be a good reminder. It is meant to remind us that all growth is by the grace and power of God.

May all these thoughts encourage you whether you plant or you water, whether you see the growth… or not.

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