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Youth Reflection Pape

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Jason Phillips
11/7/12

Youth Ministries Case Study

This case study examines the Youth Ministries program of three Youth Ministries in Mobile, Alabama. The goal of this study is to exam the structure, vision, and effectiveness of each individual Youth Ministry. This study will compare and contrast Youth Ministries from different denominations as well as different group sizes. This study will serve to establish a working template for effective Youth Ministry.
Results
Youth Ministry 1: North Mobile Baptist Exit 15 Youth Ministries
When you first walk into Exit 15 Youth Ministries of North Mobile Baptist church you gain an understanding of the style of ministry they are trying to accomplish. From the Café’ to the game stations, the lounge area and the large room decorated with a post modern flare, you gain a sense that this ministry has a progressive approach to ministry. The large stage is filled with instruments and concert style lighting. This gives you an idea of the passion they have for a dynamic worship experience. Students are interacting with each other at the game stations and in the lounge area. This allows you to see the intentional effort to connect students together in relationship.
First time guests are greeted at the front door with friendly youth and staff. This group leads the first time guest to a registration table where you fill out your contact information. After filling out your information you are then shown around the room and introduced to several of the regulars. This makes the first time guest feel valued and at home. This is another indication of the Youth Ministries aim to build relationships and have everyone feel included.
The service began promptly at 6:30 p.m. Students knew when to take their seats because of the cool countdown to service that was played on the large screens. When the countdown hit zero, student leaders took the stage and welcomed everyone to the service and gave the announcements. After the announcements, a group of adult leaders led an ice breaker and two short games to get the students moving and interacting with one another. The ice breaker and games lasted about 15 minutes. Once the games were finished, the praise and worship team took the stage. The worship team opened with a high energy praise song followed by two very moving and intimate worship songs. Students were clapping and dancing during the praise song. They engaged spiritually and emotionally to the worship songs with lifted hands. There were many who even went to the altar to pray during the worship songs. The youth worship team was dynamic. You could tell the emphasis they place on worship by their precision and excellence in worship. After the second worship song, the Youth Pastor came on the stage and shared some spiritual thoughts about worship and then proceeded to take up the offering. During the offering, the worship team led one more high energy praise song. This gave the impression that they intend for their worship services to be positive and uplifting.
After praise and worship and the offering, the Youth Pastor shared a very relevant message that dealt with being salt and light in today’s generation. He used illustrations, such as a salt shaker and a flashlight, to emphasize his points. He also used a brief video clip and powerpoint to serve as visual aides. There was a very positive response to his message. At the altar call, many came down to either accept Christ as Savior or to make a commitment to be salt and light.
At the conclusion of the service, the Café’ and the games stations were opened back up. Students mingled until time to leave. You left the service at Exit 15 Youth Ministries feeling inspired and motivated to live as a follower of Christ. This ministry is truly making an impact for the Kingdom of God.
Though their vision wasn’t spoken of directly, you gained a great understanding of it by simply being in a service. This ministry places value on relationships, worship, discipleship, and ministry. There were approximately 100 students in this service.

Youth Ministry 2: First Assembly of God Xcellerated Youth Ministries
Xcellerated Youth Ministries has its vision spelled out on the walls of their Youth Room. Their vision is to make Radical Disciples For Christ. The atmosphere is set with tin covered walls with road signage hanging all over the tin. Concert lighting and flat screen televisions are used in this ministry. This ministry gives great emphasis on worship. Their stage is filled with instruments. This ministry also gives great emphasis on relationship building by providing games stations and a lounge area for students to hang out before the service begins.
There were times when it seemed, however, that this ministry was unorganized. There were no greeters to welcome first time guests. There were no registration forms to fill out. The leaders arrived late and were scrounging around to get last minute details finished before the service began. You could feel a bit of tension and confusion in the air. The service was supposed to begin at 6:30 p.m. and did not begin until 6:45 p.m. This created awkwardness for the first time guest.
The service began with the Youth Pastor taking the stage to welcome the students and introduce the games for the evening. He had trouble getting everyone’s attention because he was not using a microphone. Once the Youth Pastor got everyone settled down, he explained the competitions that would take place that evening.
Xcellerated Youth Ministries was in an intriguing series taken after the popular book and movie, “The Hunger Games.” This series had a competition tagged with it to encourage students to bring friends, memorize scripture, bring offering, Bibles, and compete in activities in which the winners were awarded points. The students seemed to be excited about the competition as well as the series.
Students were divided into “Districts” and each district would work together, over the course of the 8 week series, to ultimately gain the most points and be declared as the winning district. The games were tied in with the movie and they were really well thought out.
Once the games were over it was time for praise and worship. The worship team led two praise songs and two worship songs. The worship team was really good and you could sense the presence of the Lord. However, many of the students seemed to be disengaged in worship. There were some who really entered in, yet many stood around with their hands in their pockets seeming to be totally disconnected. The offering was collected during the games so that points could be given to the correct districts who brought offering. After praise and worship, the Youth Pastor took the stage and shared a dynamic message about having a hunger and thirst for God. This time the Youth Pastor had a microphone and the students were connected and engaged in what he had to say.
The Youth Pastor used illustrations and video clips from the Hunger Games movie to drive his points home. At the close of his message he gave an altar call in which several students came forward to commit to do what’s right and to pursue righteousness. After the altar call, the Youth Pastor took prayer requests from the students and they all gathered together in the altar to pray over these needs. Some of the students shared testimony of what God had done as a result of the group praying together. This was very positive and touching. It gave a great sense of unity among the group.
At the conclusion of the prayer time, announcements were made and the students were dismissed. Most of the students exited the youth room immediately, while some stayed around to fellowship. The overall structure and organization of this Youth Ministry was lacking, yet they are making positive strides in making radical disciples for Christ. There were approximately 45 students in this service.

Youth Ministry 3: Saraland Methodist Church The Flame Youth Ministries
When you entered The Flame Youth Ministries youth room you gained an immediate sense that their approach to ministry was traditional. The walls of the youth room were covered with brown paneling with ministry flags draped down the walls. The youth room had more of a Sunday School classroom feel. The lone sheet rocked wall was painted ivory. There were no instruments, no stage, simply an old brown lectern at the front of the room. There was no game station, Café’, or lounge area. The seating area consisted of tables and chairs. Outside the youth room was the church gymnasium. Students were shooting basketball and hanging out in the gym prior to the start of the service.
First time guests walked into a somewhat empty room and were welcomed by the youth pastor and his wife. After a brief time of getting acquainted, you were given the option to stay in the youth room and wait for the service to begin or join the others in the gymnasium. When it was time for the service to begin an adult leader went into the gym and called for all the students to come in.
The service began promptly at 7 p.m. The Youth Pastor led every aspect of the service. He opened with announcements and then led a short uninviting ice breaker in which the students begrudgingly took part. After the ice breaker the Youth Pastor led the students in singing a few songs with his acoustic guitar that he had stored away in his guitar case. The songs he led were older, more traditional, praise choruses. After about 15 minutes of singing, the Youth Pastor began teaching on the importance of a personal quiet time with the Lord. He did not use any illustrations or visual aides. He simply used stories out of the Bible and his own personal life to emphasize his points. The Youth Pastor was a good teacher. He did well in bringing out the importance of personal prayer and time alone with God. There was no altar call given. The Youth Pastor asked for a show of hands from those wishing to accept Christ or move into a deeper relationship with Him. A couple of hands went up to receive Christ.
At the close of the service, students who were involved in the Youth Choir were dismissed to the choir room, while the other students were dismissed back into the gymnasium. You did not gain a sense of purpose or vision from this ministry. The bland atmosphere of the room is precisely the way you left feeling, bland. It seemed as if the students were more concerned with their next game of basketball than they were the youth service. It is no wonder why they feel that way. The youth service felt like a Sunday School class. The only motivation given for students to come back was to take part in the winter retreat to Gatlinburg, TN. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, yet there was no true sense of the Spirit and presence of God. There were approximately 25 students in this service.
This style of Youth Ministry may be directly related to the views of this particular Methodist Church. I have been to many Methodist Churches who have a more liberal approach to ministry. Therefore, I know that this one Church does not speak for the whole of the Methodist Denomination. Just as some Baptist Churches are more conservative than other Baptist Churches and some Pentecostal Churches are more conservative than other Pentecostal Churches, so are some Methodist Churches more conservative and traditional than other Methodist Churches. Another reason for this style of ministry could be the time constraints placed upon the ministry. At 7:45 p.m. the Youth Choir students had to be dismissed to the Choir room for practice. A time constraint of 45 minutes limits the activities that can be done.

Comparing and Contrasting The Youth Ministries
To effectively compare and contrast these aforementioned Youth Ministries you must evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each Ministry. In this section we will compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of each Youth Ministry.
One of the strengths of Exit 15 Youth Ministries consisted of its engaging atmosphere and environment. They also excelled in the area of connecting students in relationship with one another. Another major strength of Exit 15 Youth Ministries was its dynamic worship experience. This experience not only consisted of great praise and worship but it also engaged the students visually with large video projection screens and cool lighting. Not to be overlooked as strength to Exit 15 Youth Ministries is the powerful and relevant communication ability of the Youth Pastor. Exit 15 is structured well with student leaders and adult leaders taking an active role in the service.
The only weakness I saw in Exit 15 Youth Ministries was the fact that there vision was not displayed openly. You gain a real sense of what the vision of this ministry is by just being in a service. Yet, it would be helpful to display the intended vision on print, t-shirts, walls, etc.
One of the strengths of Xcellerated Youth Ministries consisted in the fact that there vision was openly displayed. Another strength of this ministry was in their connecting the students together through healthy competition. This youth ministry carries the strength of remaining relevant by using themes and sermon series that are relevant to the students. An emphasis on prayer and unity is also a great strength of this ministry. A couple of weaknesses can be found in this ministry. First, there needs to be more structure and organization to the service. The service should be well planned out and it should begin on time. First time guests should be welcomed and led to fill out contact information upon arrival. Second, the worship team needs to engage the audience. There were many who were disconnected in worship. The worship team had a good sound and spirit, yet they failed to make eye contact and engage those they were leading.
A major strength for The Flame Youth Ministries was the fact that they were scripturally sound. The Youth Pastor does an excellent job presenting the scriptures to students. Another strength of this ministry is their commitment to fine arts.
There are several weaknesses to The Flame Youth Ministries. First, the atmosphere is bland and uninviting. Second, the limited time constraints limit opportunities for students to connect relationally and spiritually in the service. Thirdly, the structure was that of Sunday School class. This group should focus on creating a service environment where the students can encounter God. Lastly, the Youth Pastor should incorporate student and adult leaders to assist him in the different aspects of the service.
Exit 15 Youth Ministries and Xcellerated Youth Ministries have many similarities. They are both progressive in their worship styles. They both place great emphasis on relationship building and worship. They both utilize visual aides to connect to students and drive their key thoughts home. They both have vision.
The Flame Youth Ministries has little in common with the other two ministries. They are traditional in style. They lack real vision. They do not connect with students in a relevant way. Yet, they do teach sound doctrine.

Reflection
This final section will deal with what I found to be effective or not effective in Youth Ministry. It will also serve as template for what I would adopt in my own Youth Ministry. I will close with a discussion on the benefits of this case study.
I believe that relationships are everything. Without relationships we are nothing. Without relationships nobody cares about our accomplishments and nobody is there for us in our tragedies. Jesus was concerned about relationships and made it a priority in His life. We too should make relationships a top priority. The most effective approach to Youth Ministry is to connect with students in relationship and to have the students connect with others in relationship. John Maxwell once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Life and ministry is truly about relationships. They way that Exit 15 and Xcellerated ministry connected relationally with their students is exceptional. I did not feel that the approach to relationships was effective in The Flame Youth Ministries. I realize that it is not totally the fault of the Youth Pastor, yet steps must be taken there to improve student relationships.
The ministry style that I would adopt as a template for my own Youth Ministry would have to be that of Exit 15. I would implement everything from their emphasis on relationship building, to the Café’ and game stations, to the registration booths, audio and visual aides, dynamic worship, and relevant preaching. Unlike Xcellerated Youth Ministries, I would focus on being well prepared, organized and punctual. I would make sure that the atmosphere of the meeting space was inviting and progressive.
I believe that this case study holds great benefits. Anytime that you can step away from your own environment and get out into other environments it is helpful. You can glean from what others are doing well and implement those things. You can also look at what others are not doing or are doing poorly and evaluate your own self and ministry approach. This case study was eye opening for me. I have learned some important attributes and characteristics of effective and successful youth ministry.

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