Pizza, Prizes and Preaching

Let me preface this blog by saying that I am no longer in youth ministry. In fact some of the things I will list below are probably reasons that I’m not anymore. However I stand by these criticisms. You can disagree if you like.


I have noticed a disturbing trend in youth ministry. It’s nothing new though. It was present when I was a teen. It’s what I like to call, “Pizza, Prizes and Preaching”. The simple idea behind it is that if one wants to attract youth one should have a party like atmosphere where prizes are given, pizza is eaten, and if time teaching is given.

Now before you crucify me for downing this approach please continue with me for just a bit longer.

I have seen this approach tried with horrible out comes. In this atmosphere there are lots of students but very little discipleship. In the long run the students still have parties and pizza bit replace the preaching with pot (ok maybe not pot, but you get the idea).

The point is that when there is no discipleship taking place then there is only an appearance of success. In the long run these students’ hearts are never changed.

Is this every youth group, no. Is it the majority of youth groups in small churches, yes.

Small churches have a want for a youth ministry but many times the inability to have an effective one. So they resort to pizza, prizes and preaching.

If your a church leader looking to hire a youth pastor or a youth pastor in training you need to look for and pray for three things.

1. A love Jesus more than numbers
2. A loves students like Jesus loves them
3. A love for preaching, teaching and discipleship

If they don’t have those three things they might be loved but they will be ineffective at the call before them.

Don’t resort to pizza, prizes and preaching when you could have preaching, discipleship and life change.

If possible do all six!

Of course these are words from a former youth pastor so use at your own risk….