Summary: A message for Youth Workers working with urban youth and teens.

Ministering to Urban Youth

By Joel Sanabria

One of the many mistakes youth workers make when ministering to urban youth is not being able to communicate with them. Communicating between teens and youth workers is not necessarily the main problem; instead many youth workers try to convert them during their first meeting or conversation„owithout even allowing them to first know of Jesus and about their ministry.

Before we minister to urban youth or to try and bring them into our churches we must first enter into their world, hear their story then approach them with compassion and understanding with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ whereby step by step they can learn about Him without any pressures of trying to convert them. Understand that we are not called to convert anyone; we are called to make a difference in people¡¦s lives.

Trying to build up an army of young people isn¡¦t easy. But it shouldn¡¦t be all about numbers. Instead we should focus more on saving souls from the fiery furnace, extending our hand out to kids who are in the pit of despair as well being able to impact a kid¡¦s life through everything we say and live by.

We have to learn to speak truth to teenagers and be real with them. We as youth ministers must learn to speak life to kids in order to obtain positive results in their lives and transform their hearts in Jesus name.

I must admit that there are good methods in ministering to youth as well great ideas and programs that have been used by many youth workers. Some have made impressive headway, but the reality of this is that at times they tend to fall short in making a difference in a teen¡¦s life because of the lack of spiritual guidance.

Many youth ministers are so busy in getting their churches full of kids to give an impressive report to the church council that they practically leave out the need for prayer, the study of God¡¦s word and living a life for God.

The hangouts, the parties, the get-togethers all the entertainment will not make a difference if we don¡¦t teach our youth about the importance of prayer and the study of God¡¦s word.

In order to resolve the issues we have, obtain the answers we seek and find the hope we need we must look to Jesus Christ who is the only way, truth and giver of eternal life.

All the hip hop ¡V all the concerts ¡V all the so called Christian clubs, urban fashions and code of the streets could never do what prayer, knowing God and living a holy life will do in a young person¡¦s life.

It¡¦s good to keep our kids busy with creative activities, games and musical concerts. These things help break the ice in allowing teens to better acquaint themselves with other teens and youth workers. Young people need to socialize and be involved in creative activities as well to have the opportunity to express and demonstrate their God given talents. All this is good and needed in our churches and communities, but what benefit will al that be if we can¡¦t make a difference because we decided not to rely on God¡¦s word and power of His Holy Spirit? We must help this hip-hop generation seating in our churches and hanging out in streets the importance of seeking more of God and less of this world.

Ministering to urban youth cannot be taken lightly. The enemy¡¦s only interest with our kids is to have their lives in constant depression, disaster and destruction. And know this¡K The enemy will try to continuously make our job as youth ministers more difficult each day because we are so blinded by the idea of pleasing and entertaining teenagers instead of being upfront with the truth of God¡¦s word and much love and compassion.

You just have to have a passion to minister to urban youth and a desire to see their lives go from statistics to success in Jesus name. Without that there is no reason for you to be in youth ministry. The task is not easy and it will get even harder, but with God on our side backing your calling to youth ministry it is possible to win the many battles to come.

But I must say this; we are losing our youth to the many false religions, sex, drugs, gangs, and the lifestyles of this world and to many corrupt so called Christian ministries. The truth must be told because there lives depend on it. It is by the truth of God¡¦s word that we can obtain freedom and are sanctified. This we do by putting on the armor of God daily.

And through that process which we as youth ministers are supposed to live by we become open epistles to these young people. We become positive and effective role models and mentors.

Do not let the world minister lies to our youth; do not let the enemy use negative role models to guide our teens. We must stand firm on God¡¦s word and in His mighty power through faith in His son Jesus to withstand all that the enemy and the world throws at us when ministering to urban youth.

I believe that we are past due on prayer and fasting for our youth. The outcry among many youth ministers is being heard up in the heavens. It is time for us to go up to the throne of grace with much boldness to prepare to minister to our youth in our churches and communities. If not us¡Kthen who? If not now¡Kthen when?

As I stated earlier a major problem we have is not being able to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to this 21st Century urban youth. The message of old and forms of teaching are no longer making an effect on our kids.

They sit in the pews or chairs and they literally distract themselves because they either find the message boring or of no interest. You can bring a message about the death of Christ like you would every year during good Friday, but look around at the kids and you will notice that half of them if not all are not paying attention to the message.

In truth there is nothing wrong with the message that we bring about the death of Christ on Good Friday. But the approach we take and the form in which we bring it is what needs to change. The significance and importance of the message is the same, yet we must understand this, not everyone in our churches is at our level. Even some adults have problems understanding the message of the gospel.

So what do we do with this problem of reaching our youth with the gospel?

One of the main points I tell many youth workers is we need to learn how to style flex with these kids when we are talking to them or teaching them. Style flexing is basically coming down to one¡¦s level of understanding so that they can understand you and you can understand them.

It doesn¡¦t necessarily mean you have to learn the slang or teen lingo. Neither do you need to be up to the minute with the code of the streets, although helpful but what is most important is making the message understandable and reachable to there mind.

Too many times I hear teens tell me, I don¡¦t like going to church because I don¡¦t understand what there saying. It¡¦s not the English or Spanish language or any other language. It is the simple fact of say, hey I have to learn how to communicate to these kids without compromising the message of the gospel.

I know for a fact that when Jesus spoke every one heard clearly what was said and understood. But the issue with those hearing was that they did not understand the person of Jesus. This is because He came with words of life to them. They expected a warrior or some political leader to overthrow the Roman Empire. Instead He spoke words they never heard of with stories that kept them thinking and talking about what He said for days. Just read about Nicodemus who just couldn¡¦t take Christ words of His head. When he questioned Jesus about being born again and Jesus took time out to help Nicodemus understand.

And so we too have to find the time to be able to help youth understand the message of His written in the bible.

Now understand this, it is not just explaining the word of God in terms they can understand. There are issues of life among them that need answers and explanation that sometimes it gets pretty difficult to deal with.

One thing we can see is that not all teens are the same. They all have there different cultures and values as well there own opinions just about everything in life. And so dealing with life issues through the use of God¡¦s word isn¡¦t going to be easy. But with much compassion, understanding, patience and guidance of the Holy Spirit we can make a difference in there lives.