There’s a question for you—what exactly is successful youth ministry? What are we aiming to do and what will we be satisfied with in our youth programs? Is it crowds? Fun? Pleasing parents? Having youth in church?

I’ve been thinking about this as I’m teaching my Foundations of Youth Ministry class (the mighty YM 191!).

In the end, I want to give a brief answer and then a slightly longer one.

The bottom line is that successful youth ministry seeks to...Build disciples of Jesus.

The goal is to fulfill Matthew 28:19 and to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Fairly straight-forward and not all that earth shaking.

Here’s my longer definition: 

Successful youth ministry builds disciples who meet together in Christian fellowship and community. These disciples seek to witness to this world through word and action.

This youth ministry is informed by Scripture rather than by culture or successful church models (although these are factors that can and sometimes must be reflected in practice). 

Successful youth ministry is a group of youth who gather together in the name of Jesus and seek to bless each other and grow in their love for each other. Their hope and goal is to bless each other and to bless their part of the world. They do this because this is what Scripture tells them to do…not what “a large church located in another culture that may have discovered some formula for success” tells them to do.

The goal of disciples meeting together for fellowship and blessing puts a number of other goals on the back burner—or even removes them from the kitchen altogether (having fun, gathering a crowd, pleasing parents etc.). It also frees us up to not worry about those activities or goals that aren’t all that important and concentrate on what really is—discipleship.