What exactly is a “Biblical Youth Ministry”?

A few years back a number of youth groups realized that the ‘old way of doing things’ just wasn’t working. The entertainment-based youth group meeting, designed to attract youth, wasn’t attracting youth. The pendulum, which had swung too far towards attraction, was now swinging back. In fact, for some groups, it swung to what was seen to be the opposite direction. That is, it went to ‘solid Bible teaching and prayer’. This was said to be a ‘Biblical Youth Ministry’.

Other groups realized that they needed to beef up the content in their time devoted to studying God’s word. Therefore they moved to having longer, more in depth Bible studies—a good thing by the way. However, they then referred to themselves as ‘Biblical’ simply because of Bible studies had been inserted into the existing program. Groups would still keep the “fun stuff” (rowdy games and activities) but then have a good time in the word of God. This for some reason, made them ‘Biblical’. In my experience, this is common in places like the U.K. and Australia.

What is ‘Biblical’?

It is important to realize that a youth ministry that wants to see itself as ‘Biblical’ must be a group that seeks not only to understand the word of God, but to live it out as well. And, do this corporately. (Think, James 1:22, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.) For example, you cannot study Colossians 4:2-6 and then run a youth ministry where there is never any devotion to prayer!

A youth ministry that seeks to be Biblical is a youth ministry that seeks to run on the principles, exhortations and models of practice that are revealed in Scripture. As I have said earlier, we must not only be committed to the message of the Bible, we must be committed to the methods revealed in the Bible.

So, here’s what I am trying to do… and it takes constant effort, I must keep reading my Bible and:

  1. Make a note of any exhortation that is given (e.g. Col. 4:2). (Please remember that exhortations are almost always written to a group of people not simply one person.)
  2. Make a note of any example of a model that is given (e.g. Acts 2:42-47).
  3. Try and figure out how to “youth-ify” this in my setting. In other words, how do I do this in my youth group in a way that is appropriate and helpful. I want to take this exhortation, and/or this model given to me in Scripture, and make it a regular part of my program.

If we can do these three things, we are on the way to becoming ‘Biblical’.