Integrating Young People into the Body and Mission of Jesus Christ

The purpose and goal of youth ministry is to “integrate young people into the body and mission of Jesus Christ”. This means that individuals find their place of meaning and purpose within the whole. To do this within the Body of Christ is to know Jesus Christ, to follow Jesus Christ, and then to live as Jesus Christ has shaped us to live, as part of his mission to reconcile the world to himself. Mike Kipp, an associate professor of youth and family ministry at Northwestern Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, has found that in general, young people will end up following the same religious path as their parents.

The Bible also encourages us to remember our Creator in our youth, before the bad days come and the years pass us by. In the classroom, when students are asked about the goal of youth ministry, they often don't have an answer. While there are areas of modern youth ministry that may deviate from biblical norms, this does not make “youth ministry inherently unbiblical”. So what does this mean for children in youth groups without Christian parents? How should the Church respond to and value young people within the community of faith? Paul's first letter to the Corinthians provides some insight on these issues.

The Bible encourages us to eliminate vexation from our hearts and remove pain from our bodies, because youth and the dawn of life are vanity. We should give believers an example in speech, behavior, love, faith, and purity. We should flee from youthful passions and seek justice, faith, love and peace with those who invoke the Lord with a pure heart. Youth worker and author Mike McGarry makes an important point in his book A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry: when the Lord smelled the pleasant scent, he said in his heart that he would never curse the earth again because of man's bad intentions since his youth.

Some are blaming youth work for young adults leaving church after high school, but this is not necessarily true. The Church should strive to provide a safe space for young people to explore their faith and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. This can be done through meaningful activities that help young people understand their place in God's mission for the world. Through these activities, young people can learn how to live out their faith in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling.