Is this really the only problem we are having in Youth Ministry?

I love reading Student Ministry blogs.  I have between 10-15 that I will regularly look at and read.  I read them because they are helpful in my learning of how to be a better Student Minister and a person.

In my reading of the blog posts at the end of 2013, I came across YM360’s Most Read Blog Posts of 2013.  Normally, I love reading posts from YM360.  In fact, I am a contributor to their blog.  But after reading the top 5 most read posts from last year, I was really disappointed and discouraged by the results here.  I wasn’t disappointed in YM360, but disappointed that most of the youth ministers chose to read those the most.

Which ones am I talking about?  I’m talking about the three that centered around how to liven up our Bible Study Teaching.  There was also another one of the five that talked about getting students to read the Bible more.

“What’s your deal Tom?  Don’t you want to learn how to be a better speaker”

Yes, I really do desire that.  This has nothing to do about learning how to be a better overall Student Minister or give talks effectively.  We need to know how to do that as Jim Rayburn, founder of Young Life, once said, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel”.  I can understand if one of the top five were on teaching to youth, but three!?!  It just makes me wonder if this is the only problem we feel like we have in youth ministry…figuring out how to teach the Bible better.

Is this really the most pressing issues that youth ministry what to know – how to improve our teaching?  Where are the popular blog posts about how to love the unlovable?  Or, how do we help our students love the unlovable?  Where are the post about dealing with personal matters and juggling being a “minister” while struggling with family issues?  How about the ones where we speak the Truth in love or how to love students over time?  Why aren’t these more popular?

Surely someone has written a blog post in the past year that had to be more insightful than how to give a better Bible-centered message?  YM360 gets submissions all the time and they post some great stuff (as do a-lot of Youth Ministry-centered blogs).

This is why I was very discouraged by the Top 5 most read blog posts from YM360 the other day.  That can’t be all that we, as Student Ministers, care about, can it?

Thoughts and Experiences are welcome.  Post them below. 


Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

4 thoughts on “Is this really the only problem we are having in Youth Ministry?

  • January 9, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Tom, I appreciate the lens in which you used to view this issue. As I pulled up our analytics I admit I too was surprised by how similar these blog topics were. Of all the posts we post during the year, I found it noteworthy that the ones that attract the most attention were mostly centered on teaching the Bible. It wasn’t necessary the result I expected.

    I do however think there are a few reasons why this is the case. Primarily I think it reflects the makeup of our audience. A healthy percentage of our youth workers are volunteer, or bi-vocational the vast majority of which don’t have a lot of “formal” youth ministry training. I think the practical, “nuts and bolts” posts provide a level of training they need as they become more proficient at the “craft” of youth ministry.

    My hunch (and hope) is that this doesn’t signify any deficiency on their part, or any oversight to the things you mention above.

    Just a thought. Thanks for all you do, Tom. God bless you and your ministry in this new year.

    Andy Blanks

    • January 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      Good point Andy. Honestly, shame on me for thinking most people reading the ym360 blog were primarily paid youth workers. That was the audience I was addressing primarily.

      Honestly, I struggled with writing this because it is my hope as well that this doesn’t signify any “deficiency” in their ability to reach students for Christ. I really didn’t want to claim that people reading these posts didn’t care for students other than their “communication” skills. I hope I didn’t come across that way (but I’m sure I did a little).

      Thanks for commenting Andy! I really appreciate your work with us youth workers.

  • January 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Great post, Tom, and I share that frustration (Not with YM360, I love that site) but with the state of Youth Ministry. We always joke as Youth Pastors “Students only care about the fun, they’ll come to a game night but not a worship night” but we do the same thing! Post a game on your blog, or freebies, or things that don’t enhance the spiritual life of a teen or leader directly, and stats blow up, but post something spiritual, and no one cares.

    So, how can we change that? How can me, you, @andyblanks:disqus work in 2014 to make it that the top posts on blogs are on a deeper level? (and again, agree with you guys, maybe the positive is that more youth pastors in 2013 focused on being better preachers and taking that duty of the Youth Pastorate more seriously).

    • January 10, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      Definitely Ben. It is a definitely a struggle as I don’t know how much some of my students really care about what I say from the “pulpit” or how I say it. Will it keep them coming back or are they just there for the friends and “good times”.

      I do think that if I love them consistently as Christ would have me, I am more likely to make an impact. I do feel that if I am there for them in their brokenness and hurt, Christ has a greater chance at impact in their lives.

      In a social media world where surface is the norm, how do we take them deeper so that Christ can make that true eternal impact? You really got me thinking Ben. Thanks!


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