One of the greatest challenges facing the Church today is reaching and leveraging the next generation of believers with the gospel. In a society driven less by morals and more by emotion, gospel-centered student ministries certainly can be hard to find. Instead of relying on Scripture alone, many student ministries water down God’s Word or altogether avoid truths that rub against popular thought in an effort to be “relevant.” However, statistics seem to show that something isn’t clicking. Student baptisms are plunging and, more than ever, students are walking across the graduation stage and simultaneously — out the doors of the Church. This is the problem that Ben Trueblood aims to address in his book, Student Ministry that Matters.
Student Ministry that Matters isn’t a quick formula for success, but rather a book that student pastors, small group leaders, and other youth volunteers can use as a resource for diagnosis. It ultimately begs the question, “Is our student ministry healthy?” by breaking down three essential elements: Kingdom expanding, character transforming, and culture shaping. Each of these elements is litmus tests for student ministry health. In essence, these elements can be detected by our answers to these questions:
- Are we reaching lost students or enjoying the comfort of our holy huddles?
- Is there an evident sense of gospel-centrality within every movement of our ministry?
- Are we arming students with an ability to understand, believe, and articulate the gospel with a heart for the nations?
However, the aim of the book isn’t to simply help student teams identify where they are, but to help them catch a vision of what could be. When success is defined by our commitment to the Word of God and making disciples, salvations and baptisms will come, and our churches, schools, and communities will be impacted as a result. This is the motivator of the book — that we would not just look across the landscape of churches in America and see dodgeball tournaments and dance parties, but disciple-making hubs dedicated to influencing the next generation.
Matt Stout is a daddy to Lottie Grace, husband to Tiphanie, and a student pastor at LifePoint Church. He has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, and when he’s not sermon prepping, he loves to watch Tennessee Vols football.