Every ministry of the church needs to ask the fundamental question, “Why do we do what we do?” In order to lay a foundation for the ‘why’ behind a ministry structure we must be reminded of the church's purpose as it is laid forth in the Scriptures. Christ is the Author of our faith and the Head of the church so it is crucial for the church to follow His plan and to fulfill its role as the pillar and support of the truth (Eph 1:22-23; 1 Tim 3:15). All ministries within the church must have biblically driven purposes as their foundation. This will insure that the ‘why’ behind our programs will indeed be what God intends for the church.
There are three primary biblical purposes of the church that answer the ‘why’ of our youth ministry: exaltation, edification, and evangelism. Exaltation aims upward to God, edification aims inward to believers, and evangelism aims outwards to the lost world. By committing to these foundational priorities, the church, and consequently our youth ministry within the church, will stay centered upon God's desire for its existence.
Exaltation is the church's commitment to be a worshiping community. The heart behind everything the church does must be beating for one purpose alone, the worship of our great God, revealed to us through His Son Jesus Christ (1 Cor 10:31; 2 Cor 4:6). The glory of God is the reason behind all of God's creation (Psalm 19:1-7; Isaiah 6:3). But God has particularly set apart a people for Himself, the church, to find their greatest joy in worshiping Him (1 Pet 2:9-10). Worship, in its broadest sense, is the ascribing of worth to God through the actions and attitudes of our lives that please and reflect Him. Therefore, the youth ministry must primarily seek to ascribe worth and glory to God in all that it does.
Edification is the church’s commitment to one another for the purpose of spiritual growth. Crucial to the health of the whole organization of the church is the gathering of the saints for the purpose of building one another up in the faith. As Dever says, “Christianity is not for loners or individualists.” The spiritual growth of individual saints is thus accomplished in two ways: 1) as gifted leaders equip/prepare the saints for the work of service in the church (Eph 4:11-16), and 2) as each saint practices the biblical "one anothers" and uses his/her gifts for the edification of others (1 Thess 5:14; Heb 10:23-25; 1 Pet 4:10). The edification and building up of the saints for spiritual maturity is the work of the saints, not primarily the pastors/elders. It is our church’s goal to help our parents, students, and volunteers take on this joyful work together.
Evangelism is the church’s commitment to proclaim the gospel message with the whole world (Acts 1:8). As Romans 1:16 clearly reveals, the proclamation of the gospel is God’s ordained method for saving sinners, for “inherent in the gospel message is the power of an omnipotent God.”
The church must therefore be faithful to this task of making disciples both in its immediate neighborhood as well as throughout the whole world (Matt 28:18-20). As a youth ministry, we must be intentional in our evangelism both inside the church as well as outside. The ‘why’ behind all the youth ministry programs needs to be focused on worshiping God, building up believers, and reaching the lost, in order to truly please Christ, who is our Head.