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I will never forget my son’s baptism for 2 reasons.

First, he was 12 and it was his “transition to being a teenager”, so it was extra significant.

Second, I wasn’t asked to be a part of the baptism.

His youth leaders were.

The first time I heard the story of his faith “becoming real” was at his baptism, and when he talked about who had the greatest effect on his faith journey, it was the youth leaders in his cabin. From his perspective at that time, the people who were most powerfully shaping his faith, were not his mom, his dad, his teachers etc., it was his youth workers.

Why?

Because they carried the greatest relational weight in his life.

Relationships matter. As a youth worker, you might “know” that, but as the dad of two teenage boys, I need to tell you again, what you do relationally REALLY MATTERS. Probably more than you realize.

Over and over again throughout the Scriptures, we are told relationships matter. The greatest commandment included “love your neighbour as yourself”.  The Old Testament tells us that communities are to pass faith on to the next generation as they talk together, sit together, walk together, lie down and rise up together.  Basically, as they live in relationship with each other. Finally, 2000 years ago, Jesus modelled relational discipleship throughout his ministry, that obviously had a significant effect on not just forming people, but forming nations and cultures.  Relational ministry REALLY MATTERS.

And it still matters today.  Even in the midst of Covid.

Covid has made connecting difficult, but not even close to impossible.  And if we want our youth ministries to be effective, we will need to continue to figure out how to do effective relational youth ministry.

Let me give you four ideas that will help.

1. Model relational ministry by investing in your relationships with your team members.  Remember that Covid has affected them as well.  You have a responsibility to care for your leaders, and as you do that, you give them a model they can follow with their students.

2. Evaluate your programs, structures, and systems. Are they still designed to facilitate the relational work of your leaders and students in your current context?  If not, what kind of expectations / programs need to change in order to make that happen?

3. Clarify organizational protocols that govern the way your leaders can interact with students, both online and offline, both in terms of “plan to protect” and Covid.

4. Keep giving your leaders tools and resources that can help them connect more effectively…which is why you should check out the training video Jason and I put together that can help you train your leaders to grow safe and effective relationships with students that will form their faith.

Relationships really matter. They always have.

God created us for relationships. But when we become intentional about facilitating the relationships between one generation and another and intentional about using those relationships to pass faith on, we change generations.  That really matters.

What about your programs and structures need to be tweaked or changed in order to facilitate effective relational youth ministry at this time?

Do you have a consistent time set aside to support your team relationally?

Do you train your leaders on the basics of building healthy relationships with teens so that they can more effectively pass faith on to the next generation?


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