Youth Ministry Defined

A few months ago I ordered Houston Heflin’s book Youth Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Youth Ministry. I only read the first few chapters and never finished the entire book. I am hoping to go back and finishing reading this great book soon. In the first chapter, Heflin does something that most youth ministry books do not do, he talks about the youth pastor’s and youth leaders personal walk with God. During this chapter he also gives his definition of youth ministry which is the best definition I have ever heard.

Youth ministry is a Spirit-led discipleship process by which God works through Christian adults to lead teens into relationship with God and to Christlike maturity as part of the body of Christ, the church.

What I love about this definition is the fact it deals with the adult’s walk with God before anything else. Before someone can minister to students they must be growing in their own faith. If we are not growing in our walk with God than we have nothing to give students except fun, games, and some cheap entertainment. But if we are growing in our walk with God we have Biblical insight and real life faith to give them. God chooses to work through people. He can and will work through other things you may do in youth ministry, but God desires to use spiritual adults to point students to Jesus and a mature faith. To all my fellow youth workers, focus on your walk with God above all else. Do not lay your walk with God on the altar for games, fun, and entertainment in youth ministry! We must be walking with God and growing in our faith before we can be effective youth workers.

Houston Heflin, Ed.D is a member of the North American Professors of Christian Education (NAPCE) and the Association of Youth Ministry Educators (AYME). He is on faculty at Abilene Christian University, where he teaches courses on ministry, and is a frequent speaker at national conferences and workshops.

Two books I would recommend on this subject is Indispensable Youth Pastor by Mark DeVries and Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry by Doug Fields.

Published by Austin McCann

Austin is the student ministries director at Redemption Chapel in Stow, OH. He has a BA from Piedmont International University and a Master of Arts in Religion with a Christian leadership focus from Liberty University School of Divinity. Austin enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball and golf, and spending time with his family.

Join the Conversation


  1. great blog 🙂 I’m so glad we had that talk last night and you could realize your dream! Its so awesome to see that your dream is going to be so instrumental in impacting the lives of the teens you minister to. I love that I can envision this dream as well and see you preaching in the youth building God provides. Remember, its not IF its WHEN!
    I love you and I’m so glad to be in on this dream with you!

  2. what if there were a ranch for troubled youth in Medina where you could live and work and preach and make a difference plus pastor at a church too?????
    Sue Jarvis

  3. I am a new youth minister and am enjoying your blog. I live near Thomas Road Batist and the Liberty campus and that is part of wht drew me in. I am curious about the graphic with this blog. Is it original, copyrighted, found … may I use it? It matches up with the youth program I am initiating.

    1. I am glad you are enjoying my blog. I hope my posts, specifically the youth ministry ones, are a help to you as you are in youth ministry as well! The graphic on this blog post was found on google. I believe I just searched “youth ministry” or something like that. Feel free to use it!

  4. Great post on the youth ministry, especially the reminder that if Christians want to reach teens, they need to have a close personal walk with Christ FIRST.

  5. Good stuff! To build a great youth ministry you must first build a youth ministry leadership team. Top on the list of building a leadership team must be their own personal walks with Christ. Keep it up Austin!!!

    1. Thanks Brain! Appreciate all you are in doing in youth ministry and the way you have poured into me to be a better youth worker.

  6. Thats a great definition, any chance you could give me the proper reference for that quote?

    1. Hannah, the book is called Youth Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Youth Ministry by Houston Heflin. I do not remember what page and such it is on in the book.

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