What are the goals of your youth ministry?

During my time at seminary, I took a class with Kenda Creasy Dean called “Advanced Studies in Youth Ministry.” My final paper for that class was called “Pneumatology as a Theological Foundation for Youth Ministry in the 21st Century” – you can read the entire paper here if you want. I thought it was a pretty decent paper, although my wife wrote her thesis in college on a similar topic, and if she ever gets that published, you’ll definitely want to read that more than this paper.

As I was getting ready for a workshop I led yesterday at my church about volunteering with youth, I started thinking about that paper again. Essentially, we had to pick a doctrine that we wanted to use as the theological foundation for a philosophy of youth ministry and I chose pneumatology.

In the paper, I said that a pneumatologically-focused youth ministry would have the following three things as its goals:

  1. To help students learn how to foster an awareness of the Spirit in all of God’s creation.
  2. To allow students to experience the Spirit through relationships, both with the Divine through worship and spiritual practices, and with others through relationships marked by fidelity.
  3. To create a community which models its love and relationality after that which is found in the triune God, through which students will have another way to encounter the Spirit, the Divine Love that holds koinonia together.

How’s that for some seminary lingo…? While it’s a little wordy, I still like the general purpose. As I was putting together a handout for this workshop, I wanted to share some of the goals of our youth ministry. There were some similarities between what I wrote in seminary, and what I wrote over this past weekend. This is what made it into the handout for our ministry’s goals:

  1. Investing in the lives of youth and place-sharing (with a nod to Andy Root for that idea)
  2. Providing a safe space for questioning and experimenting with faith
  3. Encouraging an awareness of God’s presence in the world and in their lives and relationships

How well are we doing at those three different goals? Well, some better than others, that’s for sure. What are the goals of your youth ministry? And how are you doing at reaching your goals?


  1. says

    I am an “assistant” in our Youth Program – for about 12 years… :)

    I think another thing we have to be about is providing real life answers to the real life questions, issues and “drama” that our teens face every day.

    We need to be addressing the pressures of teenage age sex, drugs, peer pressure, self-identify, etc and show them the WAY to have a fulfilling life in the midst of all these pressures – you know something different than what they see on TV, hear from their “friends”, learn on the “street”…

    My 2 cents… :)

    Patrick Steil

  2. Sean says

    Just read this and found it very relevant to where I am at as a Youth Pastor at a new church. I have often felt that youth ministry is more about spiritual things (aka more than pizza and dodgeball) and I thank you for sharing your paper and thoughts.

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