As I continue to serve in our youth ministry, I’m often surprised by two things. First, I am surprised how much of ministry boils down to communication (e.g. communicating the right message to our teens, communicating proactively to parents about schedules, communicating clearly to our leaders). The second thing that often surprises me is how often I think I’ve “figured out” this principle, only to find that I am still failing to adequately communicate. But, God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble, so I’m thankful that I have continued opportunities to try again.
As I reflect on communication in youth ministry, here are three thoughts I have.
1. **In youth ministry you have to successfully juggle constant communication to the youth, parents, and adult leadership.** Usually, I am successful in communicating with one or two of these groups. But failing to communicate to one group means that overall failure is imminent. Communicate the series to the youth and parents, but fail to let your leadership know, and they don’t buy-in or feel involved. Communicate an event to parents and leadership and you have a highly communicated, low-attendance event. Communicate to youth about a trip without adequately communicating to parents or leaders, and you have a lot of “excited teens” who never get to camp. Communication is necessary at all three levels.
2. **Redundancy is good.** There are a plethora of mediums to use for communication. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, texting, video announcements, etc. At this point, I’m convinced that more is better. This probably is because repetition is good too.
3. **Communication with God is essential to any ministry.** I’m reading a book on the prayer lives of Puritan and Reformed saints such as Matthew Henry and John Knox. These were men whose ministries were marked by the power of God and scriptural insight that would leave a legacy for generations. What is common among these men is their zeal in pursuing communion with God through prayer and Scripture. In building and maintaining a youth ministry, there are many important components. But prayer is one of the first.*
(*) At this point, I don’t want to be misunderstood as a pragmatist. “If you pray, then God will grow your ministry.” I don’t meant to suggest that the correlation is that direct, or that the primary purpose of prayer is ministerial. Prayer connects us with the God who has given us the purpose to glorify Him. And by prayer, our hearts are molded to His will and our eyes are molded to His perspective. So prayer is necessary for ministry, yes. We should not pursue it solely so that we may get something from our Father, but primarily so that we may connect with and know our Father.