Student Ministry today looks much different than it did even a few years ago. In this video, Mary Margaret West explains how the foundations are the same, but the landscape has changed.
Mary Margaret West is a Girls Ministry Specialist with LifeWay Students as well as the author of Show Her the Way: Your Guide to Discipling Teen Girls.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
If you’ve taken any time to look at your local church recently, you’ll realize that student ministry looks a lot different than it did when a lot of us were teenagers.
Even though I talk about girls ministry on the regular and so much of what I’m having to talk about is not just how are we establishing a girls ministry in a local church, but how are we ministering to the needs of teenage girls?
My dad was a youth minster. So when I first felt called to student ministry in my early twenties, when I was finishing up college, I had a conversation with my dad and he had been in student ministry for a long time. And I was talking about girls ministry. I was talking about my call to minister specifically to the needs of girls. And he just said, “When I was doing youth ministry we didn’t need girls ministry. What is it you’re talking about?”
And I think where we are in our day and age we’ve just got to make sure that there are good, precautionary things in place when it comes to conversations that maybe youth pastors are having with teenage girls.
Maybe there’s a woman in your ministry that could be a little more involved in the conversation that has been a teenage girl and she’s walked in their footsteps. She knows what it’s like to feel the aches and pains and the heartaches and the joys of what it looks like to be a teenage girl. Those women are gonna be good partners with you in ministry who can come alongside and be a part of it.
Maybe you are a woman in your local church and you’re going, “How can I get involved? How can I minister to the needs of students?” Some of you feel really awkward because it does look a lot different than it did for us, but if you will just be willing to take up what Matthew 28 tells us, “to go and make disciples of all nations” and do that in your own local church through student ministry, you can make a big part of the difference.
The basic foundational truths are still the same. We’re still trying to point students to Jesus in everything that we say and do. We’re trying help them understand and have a deep-rooted knowledge of who He is, how He’s changed their life, and how He can change their life.
So all of those things are still the same, but our tactics just look a little bit different. We’re more involved on social media, we’re engaging in different ways, we’re able to communicate more often than even I was with my youth pastor’s wife or my small group leaders when I was in high school. We’re able to connect with them almost immediately. But it also does create opportunities to build relationships in really powerful ways. For us to stay connected over the long haul, even past when they graduate. Past when they move away to somewhere else.
The landscape of student ministry has changed, I just want to encourage you that the basic pieces are still the same. All the root issues are still the same. What they’re dealing with is still the same. It’s just a different landscape for us to try to navigate.
So whatever it is that God has called you to do, we all know as believers we’re called to make disciples. Whether that’s pouring into the life of your own teenager in your own home or whether that’s for you getting involved in the life of your church and student ministry. And maybe you’re one of those people that’s been doing it forever and you’ve seen how it’s changed. We’re so grateful for people like you who have been willing to serve over the long haul.
But let me just say this to you, that the truths that we’re able to establish in the lives of high schoolers and middle schoolers before they graduate college are critical. So the more that we can have those important conversations, the more we can dive in with them and really engage their hearts and minds in the truth of the gospel, the more we’re gonna see the fruit of it later on. Because they’re the next generation. They’re our leaders.
I hope that you will consider partnering with student ministry in whatever way, shape, or form you can to make a difference for the sake of the gospel.
Check out Mary Margaret’s book, Show Her the Way: Your Guide to Discipling Teen Girls.