Getting the right answers depends on asking the right questions.
One of the more hopeless feelings is the feeling of not even knowing the right questions to ask. I am overwhelmed with this feeling every time I walk into a Home Depot. When you have my knowledge and skill set, a major home project entails changing a hard to reach light bulb. So, as you can imagine, the endless aisles filled with mysterious items brings me some serious stress. I often find myself face to face with an orange vested employee saying something like, "I'm really not sure what I'm looking for, or how to ask for it..."
Questions matter. And in youth ministry we need to ask the right questions, or we risk focusing on the wrong ‘answers'. The implications of asking wrong questions are not insignificant. Below is a suggested list of wrong vs. right questions.
Wrong question: What topic should I speak about this week?
Right question: Are the core values of our youth ministry determining the sermon series and are they reflected in the preaching calendar?
Wrong question: Will my volunteers be here, and will they be ready to help out on the fly?
Right question: Have I communicated to my staff ahead of time what the service will look like and what their responsibilities are?
Wrong question: Will students remember that we have youth group tonight?
Right question: Have I used all available social media outlets to remind students about our weekly gathering?
Wrong question: Are we choosing current, popular, catchy worship songs?
Right question: Are we choosing worship songs with God-exalting, Christ-centered and seeker-intelligible lyrics?
Wrong question: What new, fun, crazy, messy, shocking game can we play this week?
Right question: How do we intentionally build community this week through games, icebreakers, etc...?
Wrong question: Are our youth workers here by the time we start?
Right question: Are our youth workers here early, waiting for and greeting kids as they arrive?
Wrong question: Will visitors think we are fun?
Right question: Am I considering the irreligious crowd in all of our service content (songs, message, terminology used)?
Wrong question: Where is everyone tonight? (said in front of the group!)
Right question: How do we care for and love those who are here?
Wrong question: Do the students realize how great of a speaker I am?
Right question: Do the students realize how great of a Savior we have?
Wrong question: What was the name of that visitor again??
Right question: How do we use the information we collected to follow up with visitors?
Wrong question: Will we see these teens again next week?
Right question: How are we connecting with these teens outside of the church walls?
Wrong question: Is our calendar full of events?
Right question: Does our scheduling reflect our priorities accurately and in a balanced way?
Wrong question: Do our teens behave?
Right question: Is Gospel awareness and Gospel appreciation growing in the hearts of our teens?
Wrong question: Are the teens acting outwardly spiritual?
Right question: Are the teenagers being inwardly changed?
Wrong question: Is our group growing in numbers?
Right question: Are we making disciples through an intentional, clearly communicated process?
Wrong question: Is the youth ministry the best ministry in the church?
Right question: Does the youth ministry complement other ministries within the church, contribute to the overall health of the church, and align with the vision of the whole church?
Wrong question: Why don't parents support the youth ministry more?
Right question: Are we ministering, scheduling, and caring for students with the family in mind?
Wrong question: Do I feel validated at the end of youth group?
Right question: Do I feel humbled by the need, yet encouraged by the hope of the Gospel at work in my life and in the lives of those around me?