Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    They Won't Bite....Most Likely!

    Tonight I speak with the elders of our church about ways to involve our youth more fully into the total life of the congregation. The popular model of youth ministry that places teens in the care of youth ministers and adult volunteers virtually guarantees that most other adults in the church will abdicate any responsibility for the spiritual life of those youth. The assumption is that the youth minister or the adult leaders are taking care of it. I hope to remind our elders tonight that, particularly once youth are baptized, they fall under the care of the whole congregation. For a gentle nudge in the right direction, I will share with our elders the following ideas for making connections with our teens:

    • Engage youth informally at church. Though they may be shy or not know quite how to react, youth appreciate being approached informally on Sunday mornings, called by name, and asked about how things are going in their lives. This sort of outreach goes a long way to help young people see themselves as full participants in the life of the community.
    • Write to youth. Young people love to get mail, particularly personal notes that are written for no other reason than to just to let them know you are thinking about them and praying for them. If you are particularly computer savvy, try email, myspace, or Facebook.

    • Ask youth their thoughts and opinions. Who knows what wonderful results might come from occasionally inviting a group of young people to sit with you and simply reflect on the current state of the church, the church’s mission, and how they see their role in that mission. Teenagers can bring a unique perspective that can enable us to see the Church in new and useful ways.

    • Invite youth to use their talents/gifts in leadership of the church. Young people are gifted in a multitude of ways to provide leadership in all areas of the church, but more often than not they need to be asked and invited before they will step forward.

    • Engage the youth on their own turf. Simply put, rather than expecting them to come to you, go to them! Take time to visit a youth Christian education class or evening youth meeting. Visit youth and their families in their homes with no other agenda than to get to know them better.



    Audrey said...

    Thanks Brian - I am using these with our board to help engage our congregation!


    Kowie said...

    Brian, Is your youth ministry part of the congregation or do you have a seperate youth ministry? If seperate - from what age to what age before they join up with the rest of the congregation again? I sometimes get the idea that the older generation don't engage with the youth - not because they don't like them, but they think of them as chuldren in the religion - and of themselves as adults in the religion, knowing all while the youth are still in the beginning of their religion. For me - and I speak from the viepoint of a adult who only get to know Christ as an adult - youth is mostly more adult Christians than the adults. But how to get that across - I don't know.