The 7 C’s of Effective Youth Ministry

After serving in youth ministry for over a decade and now training, teaching and coaching youth ministry leaders and pastors, one question always comes up:

How do you remain effective or become more effective in youth ministry?

For me, the answer always has two parts. The first part doesn’t change but the second part depends on your youth ministry and church context.

First, the word effective really has to have a goal in mind. Your effective might not be the same as your senior pastor’s effective, or that of the church a few miles (or blocks) away. However, you need to have a very clear understanding of what effective should be.

When I am coaching leaders and churches, I ask them to identify the “win” or the “touchdown” and then we map out how they will get there. By the way, if you are going to be effective in youth ministry, you need to be on the same page as your senior pastor or you need to have a discussion so that you both agree on the “win.”

The second part to my answer will change depending on the church. That where the seven C’s of effective youth ministry come in. For a full description of the seven C’s, check out my book, After the Music Stops: Effective Youth Ministry Beyond the Big Event. For now, we will review the C’s in summary form.

The age-old quote from Benjamin Franklin is true: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Here are the seven C’s.

An effective youth ministry is …

1. Consistent

In youth ministry, it is key for you to be consistent in all that you and your team do for God. Many students have been let down by multiple adults in their lives, and your youth ministry team should not join those ranks. Instead, your leaders should be consistent in all that they agree to do.

Being consistent in your pursuit of God is also important because, as leaders, you will not be able to give out what you do not have inside of you. In order to be effective you must be consistent.

2. Committed

Being committed is similar to being consistent, but it is not the same. When I speak about being committed, I am speaking of the commitment that allows you to push through obstacles in order to get the necessary tasks and work done.

When you are committed, you are willing to do whatever it takes to see your students and their families get closer to Christ. When you are committed, nothing—no person telling you that it cannot be done, no leader blocking you from serving the students because of a policy or old-fashioned way of thinking—will stop you.

Not everyone does will see the value of what you do for students, nor will everyone want to invest in them like you do. However, as a committed leader, you will do whatever it takes to accomplish what God has called you to.

3. Courageous

We all have courage in some area of our lives, whether it’s being bold enough to wear what we want or having the courage to tell someone when they are wrong. In youth ministry it is of the utmost importance that we are examples of courage to students and families that we serve.

This kind of courage will involve standing up, speaking up and working on behalf of those who have no voice in rooms or meetings where we have a voice. Courageous youth ministry leaders are willing to take risks to see their students and families move closer to Jesus Christ.

4. Creative

I love to talk about this ‘C’ when I lead workshops and train others, because far too often, leaders think that creativity comes exclusively from a certain place or a certain age group. However, the truth is that “all creativity comes from God,” and there is nothing new under the sun.

God inspires all of us to be creative and to take a fresh look at every area of our ministries and lives. Creativity is the ability and desire to do what God has called you to do, but in a unique way that will attract more people to Christ.

Being creative means that you are willing to step out, by God’s leading, and do what you cannot see but what you believe, to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).

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