Putting Hope Back In Youth Ministry

Photo by Dustin J McClure.

Today's guest blogger is Matthew DePrez, Intergenerational Pastor at Frontline Community Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and recent author of Join Generations. Matthew was part of the 2011 Sticky Faith Cohort.

Let’s face it: it’s depressing to read about the number of kids who lose their faith and walk away from church in young adulthood. After reading countless articles and books, I get it—youth ministry as we’ve known it is in trouble. Knowing I’ve perpetuated these statistics in my years of ministry makes it even more nauseating. To be perfectly honest, sometimes this story makes it feel like there’s not much hope in youth ministry anymore.

But just knowing the statistics doesn’t do us much good. We need to be inspired. We need to know things can change. We need...hope. Research is what grounds us, but hope is what grows us.

I think we can all agree that we desperately need to put hope back in youth ministry.

If this sounds familiar, it may be crazy, but I’m actually excited for you. FYI not only has an obsessive mission to help churches implement hope, but they’ve also just released a game-changer for youth ministry—their new Sticky Faith Launch Kit—a step-by-step approach to implementing Sticky Faith values in each of our churches. When I first read the Launch Kit this summer, I was overwhelmed by what the Sticky Faith movement is doing to actually change the grim statistics we’ve all read. This kit is 238 pages of hope.

While I could write pages about how helpful this new resource is, here are two things I found particularly hopeful for the future of youth ministry in the Launch Kit:

1. Parent Engagement

Only over the past few years have I realized how crucial it is to engage and equip parents. The problem is, engaging parents is hard. Really hard! I think I speak for all pastors and leaders when I say that when it comes to parents in youth ministry, we’ll take all the help we can get! The section in the Launch Kit on effective and practical ways to engage parents is pure gold. The downloadable email templates they’ve written are worth the price of the book alone.

2. Volunteer Training

Since we’ve been involved in the Sticky Faith movement, we’ve seen again and again how important it is to train our volunteer leaders well. Whether it’s sharing the Sticky Faith vision, equipping them to lead small groups, or sharing a better understanding of the Gospel, the Launch Kit does a fantastic job of walking churches through how to best train our leaders and volunteers as we implement Sticky Faith in our churches. 

This Launch Kit is yet another expression of the Fuller Youth Institute's desire to partner with churches to put hope back in youth ministry.

Your turn: How have you seen hope implemented in your youth ministry?