Disciplines in Youth Ministry

Brad M. Griffin

Last week I asked some questions in this post about how you are helping students in your ministry develop faith rhythms in their lives -- rhythms that last beyond youth group and become regular disciplines they practice.  There were some great comment follow-ups to that discussion.

We also received a follow-up by email from Jeremy Thompson, Youth Pastor at Crossroads Nazarene Church in Chandler, AZ and before that in Ohio.  I asked Jeremy for permission to share his list of most effective disciplines with our broader audience, and he agreed.  So here are his contributions.  What has also resonated in your context? What's been different?

Regular Practices:

Apostles Creed- every time we gathered together (Wednesday evening, and our bi-weekly Sunday night youth service) we would say the Apostles Creed.  We taught through it so the students understood it and then would say it together every time we were together.

The Lord’s Prayer- We also prayed the Lord’s Prayer every time we were together.  We spoke about how it was more than a prayer but rather a way to live and the reason we say it and Christians have said it over the years was that we sometimes forget who God has called us to be.  This prayer reminds us of that.

Seasonal Practices:

The Church Year- We followed the Christian Calendar as a youth ministry and before long it spilled over to our entire church.  We observed Advent, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost and Common Time.  It was awesome!  We started by practicing Ash Wednesday, Lent and Holy week (including a Tenebrae service) with our students.  We would invite parents to come and be a part as well.  Parents then went to our pastor and said that we needed to make this a bigger deal for our church!

All Saints Day- We observed All Saints Day and it was one of my favorites.  We would have families get together and remember those who had come before us.  It was awesome to hear parents weeping as they told their students about grandparents and others in the church who had made a difference in their lives.  That made a huge impact on our students to hear those stories as well.  We would include a litany of the saints and mix it up a bit each year to bring a different dynamic to the gathering.

I believe these disciplines continuously call our students back to what we believe and who God wants to be in our lives. We have seen some incredible fruit in the ways students have gone on to serve across the world, and we attribute a lot of that fruit to the ways we were formed by these practices together.  I was just glad to be a part of it and expose them to the language the church that has been sharing for thousands of years.


Published Sep 15, 2011
Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Associate Director of the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is also the coauthor of Sticky Faith ​and Deep Justice Journeys. A native Kentucky youth pastor, Brad now lives in Southern California with his wife Missy and their three children.

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