Our Philosophy of Youth Ministry

 The Youth Ministry at Swansea United Methodist Church is standing on the threshold of rediscovery. For several years, it has existed without a strong sense of direction, purpose, long-term leadership, or student representation. Yet in those same years, the community surrounding Swansea United Methodist Church has grown greatly, mostly of families with children. So, there is a genuine recognition of need and a hunger for quality in Youth Ministry. And, there is a renewed commitment to the lives, futures, and Spiritual health of Children and Youth in the Swansea United Methodist Church community.

 Swansea United Methodist as a church has discerned a purposeful direction built upon God’s scriptural Great Commission and Great Commandment. It says that we are about the work of discipling people into a devoted relationship with Jesus, His church, and His mission in the world. Therefore, a Philosophy of Children and Youth Ministry at Swansea United Methodist Church should be founded upon the same fundamental principle that:

Our efforts should be focused on leading students to becoming devoted followers of Jesus, becoming more like Jesus, loving and serving Jesus inside and outside the church, and becoming disciple-makers for Jesus.

In essence, the hope and vision is to see each student progress from being spectators of Jesus, to being seekers of Jesus, to being believers in Jesus, to being disciples of Jesus, finally, to being disciple-makers for Jesus.

(2 Timothy 2:1-2)

 The progression mentioned above is Discipleship, and it is all about Spiritual transformation. The Bible points to Christ as the means and points to the person of Christ as the model for Spiritual transformation. We will do the same.

Youth Leaders (no matter how personable and dedicated they are) can never be to students what Christ will always be to them. Even at their best moments, they cannot impact students for eternity without Jesus Christ. So, at the center core of all Youth Ministry Values is Discipleship. Below are five Non-Negotiable Values working towards a Balanced, Discipleship-Oriented Children and Youth Ministry:

1) Relational- Discipleship cannot happen without Relationship. A lot of time and energy will go into relationship/community building. Among other things, Children and Youth Leaders will work at what is called the "Be with factor" meaning that much of student discipleship happens while en route to something…like running errands or getting a burger. In these moments, Youth Leaders can encourage, teach, and model life in Christ. One of the reasons for working hard at relationships is to establish Trust. It is important that students are able to trust their Leaders. Even more importantly is that through trust relationships, Youth Leaders can teach students to trust God through Jesus Christ. In 2 Timothy 1:12, the older Apostle Paul told the younger Timothy, "I know Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him for that day."

Along with building relationships between Leaders and students, it is important that students build meaningful, lasting relationships with each other. Programs and activities will always include community building elements and personal input that allows for students to know each other and themselves better.

2) Enjoyable- If what we are doing is not enjoyable to students, they aren’t going to want to participate. Not that everything has to be a Fun-Filled Extravaganza, but that it is meaningful, stimulating, and exciting to students.

This is achieved by being committed to being the following:

Excellent- When something is done well, most people want to be involved

Well Planned- A clear purpose and meaningful plan forces students to evaluate their involvement based upon things like content and context

Creative- The "old, old story" must be told in a fresh, compelling way and in a language that resonates with Children and Youth of varying ages.

3) Evangelistic- There’s no way to help students become fully devoted followers of Jesus without being committed to the Gospel of Jesus. This will be pursued through five foundational elements:

Bible Study- Our goal is that every student will encounter Jesus through God’s eternally, true Word. Every opportunity will be sought to live, teach, and reinforce the scriptures. (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17) 

Faith Foundation Studies- Before a child can run, they must learn to walk. The same applies to a person’s faith journey. Youth Leaders (and eventually student leaders) will help students understand some basics of the Christian life such as:

What is sin and salvation, and what does God expect from people?

What does it means to believe in Jesus?

What is the purpose of Baptism and who should be Baptized?

Conversational/Permission Evangelism- There is a saying that "truth must be caught, not just taught. Opportunities for sharing the Gospel come out of real-life moments and not contrived or forced situations.

Personal Testimony- Every follower of Jesus has a story about their faith journey. Youth Leaders and Student leaders will be encouraged to share their story of faith and salvation in Jesus Christ (Psalm 71:17-18).

Mission Trips- Life-changing moments often happen when people unite to become the hands, feet, and mouth of Christ to the world. Then, God’s grace becomes real and hearts soften to Jesus Christ.

4) Christ-Honoring- All things we do must exalt Jesus Christ. All Youth Ministry at Swansea United Methodist Church will seek to encourage in students, a lifestyle that honors Christ.

Worship- We worship God with our whole life and all of our choices. God is worthy of our very best. We will worship with the performing arts, (music, dance, drama) fine arts, technology, and hospitality (Psalm 113:1-3)

Prayer- Students will be taught that prayer is for every area of their lives and encouraged to involve God in every decision, struggle, joy. (Philippians 4:4-7)

Spiritual Disciplines- Students will be taught and trained to "run the race to win the prize…" through building into their lives spiritual disciplines like daily prayer times and Bible study, intercession, tithing, fasting, and confession (Romans 12:1-2)

Service- We lovingly obey God and humbly serve God through work projects, mission trips, and support of the mission of the church (Mt.20:28)

Integrity- We maintain strong moral conduct and Biblical ethics in all situations to represent God with integrity. "Integrity is integrating all that we are and all that we do into a consistent pattern of living." (p.30 Robbins)

5) Sustainable- The Youth Ministry of Swansea United Methodist Church must be able to exist beyond the presence, scope, and influence of one person or group of persons. To last long and grow, it must have the following: (Philippians 1:6)

Strong Biblical Vision- There must be a visionary purpose that begins with the discernment of a leader’s prayers and scripture studies, but continues with a shared understanding and adoption of that visionary purpose

Strong Long-Term Leadership- There must be a core of willing and able leaders who are called and committed to long-term Children and Youth Ministry. These leaders must champion the cause, collaborate on the vision, and continually train

Shared Commitment- Children and Youth Ministry will only be lasting if it is shared by the church’s leaders, the congregation, the student’s parents and the students themselves. This takes a humble/servant-like attitude. (Philippians 2:5-6)

Spiritual Gifts Developed- For students, part of becoming a devoted follower of Jesus is learning that all believers have Spiritual Gifts, to be used in honoring Jesus and furthering His Kingdom. For Swansea United Methodist Church, part of becoming a Sustainable Youth Ministry is Discipling students in that learning process. (Ephesians 4:11-16)