We know from our first KEY FINDING that Relationships Matter Most when it comes to urban youth. If you want your urban youth to develop into life-long follwers of Jesus who grow up to live a lifestyle of relationally influencing other people to follow Jesus, your youth ministry has to strategically focus on urban youth building strong relational connections with Christian adults.
So here is an important question for you to consider:
Is your urban youth ministry a PROGRAM BASED model or a RELATIONAL BASED model? How can you know the difference?
Here are a series of YES/NO questions to help you determine if your ministry is more program based or more relationship based.
- Is your adult to youth ratio in your ministry around 1:3? (1 adult to every 3 urban youth)
- Do you spend time with your urban youth every week outside of your ministry programs?
- Do your volunteers spend time with your urban youth every week outside of your ministry programs?
- Do you spend time with urban youth outside of programs more than 3 times a week?
- Do your volunteers spend time with your urban youth outside of programs more than 3 times a week?
- Do you personally have relationships with the families of your urban youth?
- Do your volunteers have relationships with the families of your urban youth?
- Do you spend time with your volunteers outside of youth ministry programs or trainings?
- Are you personally involved in the inner workings of the lives of your urban youth? (i.e. helping with school, family issues, doctor's appointments, learning to drive, applying for jobs...etc.)
- Are your volutneers involved in the inner workings of the lives of your urban youth?
If you answered Yes to 0-3 of these questions: Your ministry is more programmatic based than relationship based. Don't be discouraged! Many urban youth ministry begin as program based ministries but can grow to relationship based ministry through the intenional training and the cultivation of a ministry team approach. The key is to keep your eye on the ball! Sometimes it helps to allow programmatic quality to drop slightly in order to increase your personal investment in relationships with youth and volunteers.
If you answered Yes to 4-7 of these questions: Your ministry is somewhere inbetween programmatic focused and relationship focused. Most urban youth workers know that a relationship focused ministry is where they need to be, but struggle getting their volunteer team to make a similar time commitment. Consider how you can grow developing adult leadership teams by looking at the resources available here.
If you answered Yes to 8-10 of these questions: Congratulations! Your ministry is strongly relationship focused. This doesn't mean that you will have indigenous leaders from urban youth automatically. You must keep your ministry team's focus on longterm relational investment through God's strength. Many of the urban youth we interviewed didn't make a full commitment to Christ until after between 8 to 10 years of relationship investment from a Christian adult.
So - how'd you score? Thoughts? Questions?