Rev. Kyle Bitter
All Aboard! A Congregational Approach to Youth Ministry, Rev. Kyle Bitter and Dana Leyrer
Who in the congregation is responsible for youth ministry? The pastor? A talented lay leader? A church board or committee? A teacher or staff minister? What if the answer were “all of the above”? A congregational approach to youth ministry intentionally incorporates youth activity and service into as many facets of congregational life as possible. Young people have the potential to enhance just about every avenue of ministry in a congregation or school when given the opportunity, and the blessings they bring can extend far beyond young people and their families!
In this session we describe a congregational approach to youth ministry developed at St. John’s in Wauwatosa and discuss the impact a vibrant youth ministry can have on other areas of congregational life like outreach, community service, and the relationship between a church and school. Other topics of discussion include identifying and recruiting lay leaders who have the gifts for youth ministry, suggestions for incorporating youth activity into different facets of ministry, funding youth ministry, and a general template for building a youth ministry program that has a strong focus on service in the church. We conclude with a variety of other practical suggestions and resources for enhancing youth ministry in many different settings.
Rev. Kyle Bitter
Pastor Kyle Bitter served at St. John’s in Wauwatosa from 2013-2022, when he accepted a call to teach religion and foreign language at Luther Preparatory School. During his time at St. John’s, Pastor Bitter oversaw community outreach, worship and music, and youth/young adult ministries as well as teaching religion and coaching at St. John’s Lutheran School. In his free time, he enjoys running, cycling, music, and various home improvement projects.
Mrs. Dana Leyrer has served as a K5 teacher at St. John’s in Wauwatosa since 2000. Prior to that she taught kindergarten at Atonement Lutheran in Milwaukee. At St. John’s, Dana has been involved with youth ministry since the program began in 2014. Her four children have participated in youth ministry as teens, and Dana has served as a chaperone on six mission trips to three different destinations. Dana also coordinates numerous school programs that connect with youth ministry in different ways.