"...The study also explored teenagers’ expectations related to church. The
most common elements sought by young people were "to worship or make a
connection with God" (45% described this as very important) and "to
better understand what I believe" (42%). About one-third of teens said
they wanted "to spend time with close friends" (34%), "to get encouraged
or inspired" (34%), or "to volunteer to help others" (30%).
Other expectations of teenagers were less important, including learning
about prayer (26%), listening to religious teaching (26%), participating
in discussions regarding religion and faith (23%), being mentored or
coached in spiritual development (21%), discovering the traditions of
their faith (20%), participating in a study class about faith (19%), or
studying the Bible (18%)."
Basically, students are looking mainly for:
The Presence of God
That being said, after personally seeing and watching hundreds of youth pastors and youth ministries in action all over the world, I feel I would do several things if I were a youth pastor.
1. My favorite youth ministry model is Hillsong in Australia. Their documentary from a United Live worship DVD explained their core values are:
-Powerful, skilled worship - amazing musicians with incredible hearts for God will do the trick.
-Liberal amounts of crazy fun - games, mentalities, everything!
-Practicing Justice on the earth - in the form of service projects.
2. My current favorite US models are a combination of Infusion in Indianapolis, IN with Ryan Elie and H2O in Kenosha, WI with Pastor Jon Brown.
-Ryan focuses on deeply disciple-ing the students through the year, and his group is one of the most passionate groups I've encountered.
-They hold one (I'd recommend 2 - fall and spring) outreach service nights. Instead of many, he holds one big one a year. They plan a retreat 2 weeks after this outreach service, where hundreds are saved a year.
Every student that gets saved, they offer a free ride to this retreat. They take an offering on a Sunday morning to cover the costs for these students. This retreat provides the best way I've seen for students to get plugged in to the youth ministry and make friends and stick.
-They are stinkin creative. They make elaborate backdrops and sets for every sermon series. They hold "storm meetings" or brainstorm sessions with their leadership team and creative students to plan events, series and etc.
-They empower. They have large student leadership teams. They allow students to dream up ministries and help them accomplish what God lays on their heart by giving them small budgets, plugs on Wednesday nights, training and accountability, etc.
-They seem to have the most fun of any youth ministry I've seen. Their current summer theme is "Love Summer," where they are having grill outs, car crams, etc. constantly. If it's fun, kids will come.
3. My favorite youth ministry site is: generationchurch.org. Pastor Judah is one of the most amazing preachers I've every heard.