Challenges and Opportunities for Youth Ministries in China

( [email protected] ) Jan 12, 2010 09:08 AM EST

As mainland China society’s rapid development, the youths are facing numerous changes and temptations, causing the churches to emphasize more on developing youth gospel and pastoral ministries. In the latest issue of China Horizon published by Christian Communications Inc., the main topic of analysis is “Youth Ministries in Mainland Churches.”

The special topic said that although in recent years the contents and forms of mainland church gatherings have become more abundant, the youth ministries are still very few among the different church ministries. The definition for a youth ministries is that under the guidance of Christian faith, according to the youth’s heart and spiritual specialty, motivational needs, hobbies and likes, the co-work uses the biblical truth, theories of mental counseling, methods and techniques to help the youth make it through this special period.

The author assured that Christian faith can help youths find self-worth and position, helping children understand the meaning of life and satisfaction. Through youth ministry, the church can deeply understand the confusions and struggles that youths face, provide them with the proper value systems, views on life, create a safe and proper environment, guide and accompany youths to peacefully walk through this key stage of life.

However, the development of youth ministry also faces various challenges, and the author listed four of them:

1. Active Thinking, Complicated and Diverse Family Backgrounds

In the church, youths are active thinkers, have complicated and diverse family backgrounds, so the responsible co-worker not only needs to be passionate, patient, but also sensitive and caring. And it is important to make every event active and lively, strong in interaction, participation encouraged. “The church should become the youth’s ‘home’, giving them a feeling of peace and belonging.”

The author pointed out that the actual problems that youth ministries confronts are how to actively guide children who were from a Christian family to experience the realities and goodness of faith, how to bring those from a non-Christian background before Christian faith, how to deal with the numerous doubts and questions in faith.

2. Numerous Personalities Amplifies Shortage of Pastoral Counseling

Youths have many personalities, so it is best that the co-workers should have proper theological educational background and need to understand youth’s mentalities, be equipped with youth counseling experiences.

In particular, the author remind that in the process of interacting with youths there should be overflowing amount of care, guiding according to the situation, shouldn’t only focus on the mission objective, but should help youths develop personality, establish morals, expand their perspectives through ministries and biblical principles.

Moreover, when developing youth ministries there should be a broad kingdom perspective, and the purpose is to gain this person’s soul for Christ, even if he/she temporarily didn’t commit before you, but your words and actions will inadvertently instill and influence him/her, and it will unconsciously influence his/her understanding and realization towards Christian faith.

3. Lack of Resources Disclose the Weakness of Power of Continuation

The author wrote that although the faith situation and spirituality of the youths directly influence the future of the church, unfortunately, the amount of dedication of churches and ministries towards different aspects of youth ministries are often far from sufficient. For example, Sunday school resources and reference books have in recent years become more abundant for adults and children, but the Chinese books on youth ministries are few and the ones that fits according to the situation in mainland are even fewer.

The author hopes that there will be more Christian education specialists, Christian mental counselors, experienced youth ministry workers, existing church pastoral staffs who’ve started developing youth ministries can write books, providing more precious opinions and suggestions on the area of youth ministries, from a professional and faith perspective.

4. Holes in Structure, Serious Signs of Loss

The youths represent a low percentage among the believers in various churches, and the signs of loss have become very serious. In regards to this, the author suggested for pastors to research carefully, searching for the appropriate channels and ways to approach these youths and understanding their thoughts and needs, to try to understand their hearts. If the church wants revival, then the pastors need to pay the price. In this way, it will be an effective ministry.

In addition, to keep the youths in church, have them devote entirely in faith, and have them invite more youths to church to understand about Christian faith are all ways and methods to fundamentally resolve the loss of youths in churches, holes in structure of church believers.

Lastly, the author emphasized the need for a ministry team for church’s youth ministries rather than for one or two people carrying heavy responsibilities. Besides this, the other point of caution is not to set success upon the increase of people in the ministry or the creativity of event.

To be a friend of youths, it is necessary to understand their thoughts, to listen to their feelings, and to fervently pray for them, allowing the Holy Spirit to change their lives, and allowing Jesus to accompany these youths to walk peacefully and successfully through this special stage in life.