BY: Anna Kathryn Simmons


by the Center for Youth Ministry Training

What makes your community unique or special?  What are the real needs (not the perceived needs) of not only the youth and families in your congregation but the community surrounding your church? Are you aware of the racial, economic, and religious makeup of your community?  Churches are influenced by and serve diverse people within the community, but not all youth ministers take the time to truly understand their context. We bring our own cultural biases to our church and community. Whether you are new to your context or you’ve been there 10 years, we can best reach our neighbors with the good news of the gospel when we take the time to really get to know them, their needs, and the unique gifts that they offer.


  1. Cultural Awareness — Becoming mindful, attentive, and conscious of similarities and differences between cultural groups in your community. 
  2. Cultural Brokering — Looking for ways to bridge, link, or mediate between groups or persons from different cultures inside and outside the church to reduce conflict and/or produce change. 
  3. Cultural Sensitivity — Knowing the needs of the community will allow you to develop ministries that meet them where they are.
  4. Worldview — Understanding other people’s perspectives and what shapes them will allow you to engage them in Jesus’ alternative view.

What kind of setting do you serve?  Urban? Rural? Small Church? Suburban?  Select and read the article that most relates to your ministry context:

Basketball and the Unique Challenges of Urban Ministry by Dwight Johnson

Small Church Ministry by Paige Bach

Relational Rural Ministry by Maria Ghianni-Wilkinson

Student Ministry in the Suburbs by Abby Johnson


Cultural Toolkit Assessment

Use this week’s download to investigate your church’s culture and the community you serve.  The assessment has questions that will guide in this process no matter where you live and serve and no matter how long you’ve been there.  Use it with your student ministry team or if you are new to your church do it on your own. The guide is especially helpful to churches who have lost connection with the community around the church.  It can also be helpful to churches who think their community makeup is one thing but the needs of their people are actually different. Let us know what you learn! Download Here.



No comments found.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles


Theology Together: An Invitation Into Our Community


CYMT is excited about its newest endeavor, Theology Together. Theology Together educates both teenagers and youth workers as they engage in theological reflection, spiritual practice, vital service, and vocational discernment. The Theology Together process produces reflective action that is embedded in the fabric of youth ministry in all of its contexts. We believe strongly that youth are theologians and belong at the center of tough, life-changing dialogue around faith, relationships, and life. We place teenagers in the driver seat alongside their youth pastors and leaders, equipping each individual to think differently about youth ministry, to provoke a sense of awe and wonder: a WOW moment.

Youth Theology Tools | How to Position Youth as Theologians Using the WOW Theological Method


Youth theology is theology built upon the simple doctrinal principle of the priesthood of all believers, and takes that principle right down to its natural conclusion:  that all believers, including youth, teens, adolescents, etc. are theologians. It is theology that values all youth as theologians. Here we will share with you how to engage with youth theology in your own ministry.

Youth Encounter a ‘Disorienting Dilemma’ at My Cup of Tea


A few weeks ago, we shared the launch of Theology Together 2.0. Today, Dwight (the director of Theology Together) will be sharing with us one experience […]