The Content-Driven Youth Ministry [ARTICLE – Youth Ministry]

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Playing Guitar in a Grocery Store

I was doing what normal homeschool teens do—playing my guitar in a grocery store.

It was a gig in exchange for an amplifier, but an event that impacted my life.

A man asked, “Are you Christian?” and the conversation progressed to the topic of sign gifts. I cared about truth, and needed answers from God’s Word.

I went home and devoured a book from my youth group, crafting a lengthy response email to the man. It probably did nothing to change his mind, but the research sure helped me. 

Content-Driven Youth Ministry

I was thankful for that book from my Sunday school series. A content-driven youth ministry helps teens learn to find godly answers to life’s questions. Transition into adulthood is not about independence but interdependence. Teens need to learn to know God and stay close to others who know Him too.

Interest, Exposure & Involvement

Teens will only be helped by godly content with 1) interest, 2) exposure, and 3) involvement. Since youth ministry content affects eternity, I want my teens to get it. Like, REALLY get it. Consider these thoughts:

1) Make content-driven youth ministry interesting.

Preach to the heart. If a teen truly loves God, he will seek answers from God’s Word when he is faced with tough questions. A teen will be interested in what’s interesting, so make God interesting.

  • LIVE IN RICH CONTENT. Don’t be shallow; let rich content mean something to you, first. A 5-minute read-through of someone else’s curriculum won’t do. Learn, then teach. Work on something big (personally), and let it build you. The fruit of the Spirit is the sweet byproduct of abiding in the vine. Make God interesting by modeling how good life is when lived for God.
  • PREACH WHAT YOU LEARN. Your own growth becomes the richest content to teach others. Be the best preacher you can be. If you are boring, is it real to you? Teens sit under your voice every week—make the most of it. They know the difference between the gift of gab and the gift of God.


2) Expose teens to plenty of quality content. 

I taught a few quarters at a local Christian school. One of the star students who won the Christian character award told me, “Yeah, I’m into God and stuff… I’m just not into the Bible.” Red flag!

Quantity and quality are the foundations of a content-driven youth ministry. I am terrible at a lot of youth ministry stuff, but I try to keep an eternal perspective by asking, “How will these teens remember our youth ministry?”

If they connect to ME through relationship-driven youth ministry, I become a crutch. Teens may have fond memories, but life is deeper than that.

Relationships are a means to an end—the “end” being godly content. 

Once teens truly love God, they will want to draw nigh to Him. The youth ministry can be content-driven a couple ways:

  • God’s plan for church health is for a pastor to feed the flock through consistent, rich Bible content. Why not youth ministry, too? Preach rich sermons in class. Bring teens to camps that focus on preaching. Hand out preaching CDs or downloads. Go to preaching conferences and rallies. Teach teens to love preaching, and give them plenty of it.
  • Supplement preaching with written content. Class handouts, curriculum books and “further reading” lists are good ways to teach teens to grow themselves spiritually. Facilitate the library for the learner.


3) Provide tools that involve teens in rich content. 

The more that the teens are exposed to and involved with godly content, the more God-dependent they become. Our youth ministry uses a preaching format for Sundays and a teaching/involvement format for our Wednesdays, getting content into their hands as much as possible. We go through devotionals, give “homework” and review content in a variety of formats.


I Like the Fruit

One youth pastor switched his focus from the “back three rows” to the “front three rows” and revolutionized his youth ministry. No church is perfect. Mine’s not! But I DO like the fruit that comes from content-driven youth ministry. My teens who “got it” in high school are doing well still today. That’s the point.



Teens do not have to know all the answers. They just have to 1) CARE about the right answers and 2) be able to FIND the right answers. Help teens transition from an unhealthy dependence on others to a Scriptural interdependence on God and godly people.