Q: Some people refer to youth ministry and others refer to youth work. What’s the difference between the two?
A: Youth ministry and youth work are a little like carrots and vegetables. All carrots are vegetables, but not all vegetables are carrots. In the same way, all youth ministry is youth work, but not all youth work is youth ministry.
Youth ministry is done by Christian churches and tends to have a twofold focus:
- Helping young people come to faith in Jesus
- Helping young Christians grow in their faith
Youth ministry therefore focuses on the spiritual (although we think it’s important to be both holy and holistic). This type of youth work is often headed up by youth pastors and supported by volunteers, but youth ministries are also often led solely by dedicated volunteers – particularly in smaller churches.
Youth work as a whole though covers a much more broad spectrum. Like we mentioned, it includes youth ministry but also includes all kinds of other non-faith based work with young people.
There are too many types of youth work to cover in just one post, so from tomorrow we’ll be starting a new series that’ll be published on Wednesdays. This series will explore all the different types of youth work and will feature interviews with youth workers from around the world who are all experts in their niche. We therefore hope that this will be a great resource for youth workers to discover all the different types of youth work that are out there.
If you’re working with young people in any kind of niche area of youth work, we’d love to do a Q&A with you that we can publish as part of this series. If you’re interested in getting involved with this, please get in touch and let us know what type of youth work you do.
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