Uptown Church’s Philosophy of Youth Discipleship

It’s a new school year and with that a new wave of rising sixth graders and new families to the youth group. At our recent Kick-Off Sunday Open House, we invited parents to join us downstairs in the cafe to experience first hand what Sunday school looks like, to encourage our families and to teach both parents and students our philosophy of youth discipleship. The idea was to lay out the why behind what we do week in and week out within the ministry.

Categorized under our four distinctive’s of the ministry, here is a good snapshot of what our family centered model of youth discipleship looks like here at Uptown Church:

Distinctive #1 is to affirm and assist the family role in the life of each student. The youth ministry will reinforce the healthy Christian values found at home; serve the parents by equipping them through training and teaching; create opportunities for families to grow together through fellowship, service and teaching opportunities.

What this looks like practically throughout the year:

  • Periodic training seminars/parenting Sunday school classes
  • Encouragement to participate in a mission trip as a family
  • All family events that include students, parents and siblings
  • Teaching students and parents to see mom and dad as the primary discipler
  • Utilize parents as volunteers throughout the ministry on every level
  • Yearly combined parent/youth Sunday school class
  • Encouragement to Plug into a Life Group as a family

Distinctive #2 is to create a community among youth age students; peer relationships aimed at strengthening and encouraging each other towards Christian maturity. Due to the nature of teenagers and their unique development stage, it is important for them to develop relationships with each other and form an identity as a group.

What this looks like practically throughout the year:

  • Maintaining a combined High School and Middle School youth group
  • While providing age and gender specific community building such as Mentor Groups and Youth Sunday School table discussion groups
  • Providing opportunities for fellowshipping and serving side by side
  • Retreats designed to welcome in new students and strengthen existing friendships

Distinctive #3 is to integrate youth into the extended church. It is important for students to not only develop relationships with each other but also be included as a part of the whole church body. Therefore students will be encouraged to develop relationships with the whole church by using their gifts and abilities to assist the church in its worship and work.

What this looks like practically throughout the year:

  • No youth section in corporate worship
  • Students encouraged to serve together within the larger church (nursery, welcome team, VBS, roadies, missions, worship team, etc.)
  • Yearly attendance of an adult ed. Sunday School class
  • Intentional effort to promote youth participation at church wide functions (The All Church Retreat, Lessons and Carols, Community Picnic, etc.)

Distinctive #4 is to engage non-Christian youth and their families. The youth ministry will equip students and families to engage non-Christian students and families. As students and families share their faith with others, the youth ministry will serve as an entry point into the church. Ultimately as we reach out to non-Christians we want to reach the family, not just the student, encouraging parents to engage parents as youth engage youth.

What this looks like practically throughout the year:

  • Events designed for families to invite neighbor families
  • Intentional effort to pursue parents of visiting youth
  • MOB Squad – (Making Outsiders Belong) – Our Youth Leadership and Welcome Team focuses on drawing visitors and new members into the group.

Author: Rev. Wes Andrews

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