The Youth Ministry Mindset Podcast – Ep. 1: The Upside to the Downside

Watch The Youth Ministry Mindset Podcast on YouTube or listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

The first episode of The Youth Ministry Mindset Podcast, a limited series with voices from Alpha and YDisciple. Joshua, Annie, and Jordan dive into what youth ministry in the church has been like during COVID and changes that need to be made. Join us as we start the conversation of what youth ministers can do moving into a post-COVID world. We’ll look at past failures and look forward to ways to make space for what our young people need and how to make our ministries more effective.


We meet our hosts and hear their backgrounds and what brought them together for this conversation. 

 Culture matters more than content. Before COVID, many youth ministers were clinging to youth ministry models that are ineffective. Like a Tsunami, which draws back miles of water, revealing bare ocean floor before releasing gigantic waves, COVID pulled back the “normal methods” of youth ministry. This left much of the bedrock, including common problems, revealed as we wait for a fresh flood of grace to come back with a new ministry mindset. 2021 is the new era of youth ministry.

 We’ll talk more about Gen Z in episodes 2 and 3, but we believe the Holy Spirit is using Gen Z to bring revitalization into the Church; they seek the truth. Our mindset for ministry needs to shift from transactional to transformational. Some teenagers and youth workers view Confirmation prep as a cause of stress, a process of just checking the boxes. In this, we miss the grace in creating room for the Holy Spirit. It is vital to engage in meaningful relationships, create opportunities for youth to meet Jesus, have a relationship with Him, and know that they are accepted in the Church. 

 Four lenses for looking at transformational youth ministry:

  1. REAL: Through this lens, we welcome real doubts, questions, and statements. We invite youth to meet the natural person of Jesus. We seek to be authentic and cultivate authenticity, which Gen Z craves. We offer small groups to engage young people in conversation and give them a space to be heard.

Questions we need to ask: How can we invite and challenge people to be real with us? How can we make a space for that in the Church? How can we be real with them?

  1. RELATIONAL: This lens is a tried-and-true concept but needs renewal. Youth need five adults actively present in their lives to stay in the Church, so we need the whole Church. The relational depth of our churches matters because youth are asking if they belong.

Questions we need to ask: What would it look like to turn up the dial on the relational part of our ministry? What can we do to make that need, five adults actively present in each teenager’s faith life, a reality? And what impact would it have?

  1.  RELIANT: Through this lens, we rely heavily on the Holy Spirit. We do our part, love people well, and trust the Holy Spirit to do his part. We create a space for young people to experience God’s love and God’s power.

Questions we need to ask: Am I creating a space to invite the Holy Spirit to move in powerful and life-changing ways? 

  1. REPRODUCIBLE: Through this lens, we work ourselves out of a job. We create space for young people to engage in the faith, and participate in the evangelization of the nations or anything the church is doing. We reproduce young people to become disciple-makers themselves. And we work with adults to reproduce youth ministers in our parishes. We have to do this to have a successful relational ministry.

Questions we need to ask: How are we creating reproducible ministries where we can engage young people in more effective ministry?


  1. “The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’” -C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
  2. The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ -Grace Hopper
  3. “It’s not doubt that is toxic to faith, it’s silence’ -Kara Powell
  4. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” -1 Corinthians 11:1
  5. Parable of the Talents – Matthew 25:14-30


10:30 “It wasn’t really working before, and we knew it, but the change was scary.”

20:10 “They don’t care that we know until they know that we care.”


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