Why isn’t Youth Ministry a Mission?

I was just thinking…

Why isn’t Youth Ministry a Mission of the church?

That might sound trite, or stupid question, but think about it. If you go to any church website I will, 99% of the time, guarantee you that ‘youth ministry’ or ‘student ministry’ will be under a heading of ‘programs’ of the church.

Does putting it under a ‘program’ heading fundamentally change the expectations of the ministry? So some thoughts on Program & Mission…


  • ongoing
  • works for those within organization
  • routine
  • safe


  • evolving – reshaping to needs
  • outreach – taking message outside organization
  • challenging
  • sacrificing

Now, there is nothing wrong with program, as long as those are the expectations and goals behind a program. However, if we really want our churches to reach out, introduce teenagers to a radical Christ, and take on the passion of our Lord.. then wouldn’t our youth ministries be more of a mission category?


  1. says

    If you look at the percentage of teens and students that ‘really’ believe and the hard work most youth workers do to lead these kids to Christ, youth ministry should be a mission alright. It might also have the advantage of getting more attention, more volunteers, more money and last but not least more prayer!

  2. says

    Great point and I think you’re distinctions between program and mission should challenge us to consider which we are leading in our own churches. From my own experience, almost all the churches I’ve served have seen youth ministry as a “program” meant to serve the needs of the youth and families already in the church. The only one that saw it as “mission” was a church that called me on staff to help them start a youth ministry because they had virtually no youth.

    • Gavin Richardson says

      thanks Brian, as someone who ponders very deeply the messages we send with our youth ministry practices, that means a lot. Some distinction could be made via tagging as “ministries” but generally that means either a program or a mission in form. As ‘mission’ it might bring about a whole other framework for how we train our youth leaders to be missionaries of a classic form versus agent of the church.

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