1. Youth groups are microcosms of churches, not outreach/mission work.
While a youth ministry can be a tool for outreach or ministry, reducing them to that expectation ignores that fact that youth are living, breathing members of the church, too. If you know the youth, you know a lot of the families, a lot of what they’re going through, and a lot of what you can do to help. This being said, if you don’t know the youth, you could be missing important opportunities to minister to families and the whole congregation.
2. Youth need a well-rounded theological and social experience.
If pastors don’t spend time with youth, they may be in a situation where they are getting watered-down theology (and pastors or parents don’t know it.)
I can’t even begin to imagine my youth experience without having our pastor and a wide variety of adults (not just parents or youth directors) involved.
3. Pastors words and actions affect youth, and youth cannot be fairly taken into account if they are not truly known.
Sometimes pastors publicly offer condolences to a youth for something the youth didn’t think was going to be or didn’t want to be public knowledge. Or they make sweeping statements about ‘young people today.’ I’m pretty positive that these things would happen much less often (and we would hurt less feelings) if pastors spent time in fellowship with youth, getting to know them the same way they do other congregants.
4. Youth need role models that are not necessarily authority figures.
Some really influential people in my life were adults who were not my parents, not my youth directors, not my pastors, or teachers…they were just people who decided I was important and took an interest in my spiritual formation. Because they were not in a position where they were telling me how to be, they actually had one of the greatest impacts on how I did turn out to be. This is why we need rock star adults.
5. The Church has misconceptions about what youth even is.
It is so easy to reduce a youth group to pizza-eating and superficial Jesus analogies. The best way to understand the importance of relationships in student ministry is to be a part of them yourself.