Youth Ministry Characteristics
Like all ministries of the church, the youth ministry takes its direction from and strives to embody the Vision, Purpose, Culture, and Values of North Shore Community Baptist Church. In light of this, the youth ministry is characterized by the following:
The Apostle Paul declares that the “good news” of God’s grace to sinners through Christ’s death and resurrection is “of first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3). It is, in fact, central to all of life, and the church has been entrusted with the task of faithfully proclaiming this good news to the world. For this reason, the youth ministry of NSCBC strives to develop in students a deep knowledge of and passion for the Gospel. Young people should have a clear understanding of the distinctive nature of the Gospel message; embrace the Gospel’s implications for every area of their lives; cultivate attitudes and behaviors marked by Gospel-driven, Spirit-empowered holiness and love; and take an active part in sharing the good news of Jesus with their peers and communities. Moreover, ministry decisions are motivated by a desire to remain faithful to the Gospel message as revealed in Scripture. Teaching opportunities, mentoring relationships, programs, activities, and events aim to foster in young people a fuller appreciation of Christ’s saving grace and their own roles in God’s plan for the church and world.
Partnership with Families
The youth ministry exists to support families in their God-ordained role of cultivating in their children a mature faith in Christ and a strong knowledge of God’s Word. As such, it does not compete with or replace families but rather partners with them in nurturing young people. This partnership requires, among other things, maintaining open lines of communication between youth leaders and parents/guardians, promoting a spirit of cooperation and mutual trust, and encouraging the active involvement of families in the lives of their children and in life of the church.
Integration with the Church-at-Large
Young people are an integral part of the church-at-large and thus reflect the identity of NSCBC. The youth program encourages both adults and students to recognize and embrace the importance of an extended church family by connecting students with adults in significant mentoring relationships and providing opportunities for students and adults to serve alongside one another in church ministries. As the leaders of tomorrow, young people at NSCBC are given leadership opportunities where appropriate within the wider church community.
A Relational Approach
Making a difference in the lives of youths happens one student at a time. The most effective way to impact young people is by developing significant, caring, personal relationships with them while recognizing the value of both the church and individual families in nurturing the faith of the next generation. An authentically relational approach to ministry involves meeting students where they are and walking with them through life. Because students’ participation in a youth ministry is not necessarily an indicator of long-term spiritual growth or future church involvement and no single programming strategy will work effectively over the long haul, greater emphasis is placed on cultivating healthy relationships with adults and peers and less on event-oriented programs.
An Openness to Youth from Diverse Church Backgrounds
Although the majority of students involved in the youth program come from NSCBC families, the youth ministry also has a rich history of openness towards young men and women from surrounding communities who may or may not attend any church, or who may attend churches where there is no youth group. Such diversity provides useful opportunities for learning from one another and for strengthening Christian unity and cooperation among local churches.
Biblical and Theological Preparation
In an age marked by declining biblical literacy, pluralism, skepticism, moral relativism, dogmatic anti-dogmatism, and a turning away from Christian orthodoxy by increasing numbers of young people raised in evangelical households, careful and loving biblical and theological preparation is essential for deepening students’ understanding of the Gospel and for equipping students to navigate a world full of competing messages and values. Young people are capable of thinking deeply about biblical and theological truths, and the youth ministry of NSCBC assists them in developing a rich knowledge of Christian doctrine, grounded in the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, and applying this knowledge meaningfully to their everyday lives. Graduates of the youth ministry ought to be prepared to articulate and defend their beliefs in a compassionate, reasoned, and clear way to a post-Christian world that is culturally and ethically diverse.