Strategic youth ministry thinking
Adolescence is often a unique time when the pursuit of individuality, intense physical and social changes, pressure to perform at school, and messages from the culture blend together, producing waves of changes that are difficult for young people to navigate. It’s imperative that people of youth ministry are educated to critically and knowledgably engage the strategies, components, and assumptions of contemporary youth ministry, to effectively respond to them, and to authentically lead today’s young people with wisdom, rich enthusiasm, and excellence! The Youth Ministry program at Bethel attempts to reflect these values.
A fundamental distinctive of the Youth Ministry major at Bethel College is its high view of Scripture and acknowledgement of the foundational role that God’s Word provides for effective and faithful youth ministry. Men and women in the program will take 34 hours of Biblical studies that provide an intense grounding in knowledge of God’s Word. Students will cultivate new insights as they learn how to study the Bible and relate its message to today’s world.
Practical skills and experience
Much more than just classroom and theory, the Youth Ministry major at Bethel expects and encourages students to gain real-world ministry experiences by participating in many available exciting hands-on youth ministry ministries. There are numerous opportunities to serve Jesus in area churches, urban ministries, camp settings, Young Life, Youth for Christ, and in after-school ministries. These practical experiences are linked with self-reflection and expert guidance to help the student grow in his or her expertise in practical youth ministry. The faculty members are deeply committed to the growth of each student and have a history of experience and excellence in youth ministry, allowing personal practical insights to be taught alongside theoretical and theological foundations.
At the center of the learning about youth ministry is a core commitment to Jesus Christ and his call on us for service. In the midst of academic pursuits and practical experience is an understanding that people in Christian ministry have to learn to depend more on Jesus than on themselves. Fostering this God-dependency and exploring what it means to be a servant-leader are critical components of the youth ministry major. Students at Bethel participate in dynamic chapel services three times each week and have numerous opportunities each year to participate in community service and short-term mission projects.
Answering the call for greater understandings of multicultural issues in youth ministry, Bethel College is one of the few undergraduate youth ministry programs in America that offers specific study in multicultural issues related to youth ministry. The world for teens today is ever changing. Following Jesus’ example, men and women in youth ministry must choose to effectively minister within the culture, reaching out to teens of all backgrounds, ethnicities, social classes, cultures, and subcultures with sensitivity, understanding, and awareness. The students in the youth ministry major at Bethel are keenly aware of contemporary multicultural concerns and are prepared to minister in diverse settings while effectively communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Adolescent development expertise
The youth ministry program at Bethel gains even greater strength, working in harmony with the psychology department at Bethel as it seeks to understand and address the needs of the whole person. Youth Ministry majors will gain a solid grounding in historical and traditional understandings of adolescents as well as recent research regarding adolescent development. Bethel youth ministry majors recognize the developmental needs of teenagers and the need to be students of adolescence to reflect an expectation of excellence in the pursuit of God’s calling to minister to youth.