Urban Church Pastor: Churches Must Change Their Youth Ministry Strategies

A picture of a group of young people raising up bibles
A picture of a group of young people raising up bibles (photo: Canva.com)
By Li ShiguangSeptember 5th, 2023

Many churches today face the crisis of not being able to effectively attract young people. Therefore, churches must actively explore and seek to establish a channel with young people.

In a recent interview with the Christian Times, a Chinese online Christian newspaper, Wang Zhenhai (pseudonym), a brother who serves in a city church in northern China, urges that if churches want to attract young people, they must adapt and change their youth ministry strategies according to the needs of young people.

First of all, Wang believes that in the future, it will be increasingly difficult for traditional churches to minister to young people as well as middle-aged and elderly people. This is because the ministry model of these churches has become entrenched, leaving little or no room for young people to grow. Therefore, while these churches may have verbally emphasized the importance of young people, to a large extent, it is the churches that are unwilling to "open the door" to young people rather than the younger generation who are reluctant to join the church.

Wang claimed that churches must come up with practical ways to effectively attract and minister to young people unless pastors and church co-workers decide to minister only to the middle-aged and elderly groups and not to young people. He points out that while the Word of God cannot be changed, some approaches to youth ministry can be adapted for young people because they will hardly come to churches if no adaptation is made, and even if they do come, they will not stay long.

"For example, young people are generally interested in music, so churches can attract them with music, pictures, and comics and build a relationship with them first before ministering to them."

"Our church's specific strategies are to first target the family members of our members, hoping to get the young people in their family to come to church, and then have them bring their friends. Today, because there is a great lack of trust among people, it is very difficult for us as a church to invite young people directly, but it is easier for them to bring their friends because they have already built trusting relationships among them," said Wang.

And when these young people come over, Wang added, they can learn to play musical instruments and paint for free with some experienced teachers. To attract and retain them, their church has also set up a fast-casual restaurant where young people can eat for free.

Wang pointed out that churches should find out why young people are unwilling to be part of the church and then solve the problem.

"Our church not only has a restaurant and a kitchen but also many musical instruments and popular exercise equipment. Before we preach the gospel to the young people, we want them to like the church by making them feel that they are loved here and that the church is different from the outside world."

"Man cannot do much, but God will be at work. We can't be sure if we will succeed, and it's normal that we can't do well because man's power is so limited. Even if our work isn't good, we can only reflect to find out why."

Churches may not succeed if they try, but if they do not even try, there is no chance for them to succeed, and they will only continue to decline and shrink.

- Translated by Joyce Leung

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