Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    10 Ways to Empower Teens to Lead Your Ministry

    I have long believed that authentic youth ministry is ministry BY youth as much as it is ministry FOR and WITH youth.  Encouraging teens to be leaders within our youth ministries is an important step towards helping them to become lifelong participants in the mission of the Church.  Leadership responsibilities can steer youth away from the notion that they are a consumers of the Church and help them develop their gifts for ministry.

     Involve your youth in taking ownership of the ministry by empowering them to:

    • Serve on a Hospitality Team - Train some of your youth with strong interpersonal intelligence to intentionally welcome guests and new students and help them to know what to do on their first visit.
    • Be the Group Photographer - Tap into your teens' creativity by rotating responsibility for capturing images of your gathering for slide shows and publicity. This is a particularly good task for an introverted student because the camera gives them a reason to be interacting with the group.
    • Open Each Meeting - Empower youth, with the help of an adult, to develop and lead an ice breaker or community builder to open each meeting with the activity perhaps linked to the theme or topic for the gathering.
    • Close Each Meeting - Invite youth, with the help of an adult, to develop and lead a closing prayer or worship time for each of your gatherings.
    • Lead the Program of Study - Sure, it's easier for you to do it yourself, but it is so much more meaningful for the youth and their peers if they are at least occasionally invited to develop and lead the discussion, Bible study, or activity for a meeting (with the help of an adult mentor).
    • Prepare the Meal or Snack - Yes! Teens can cook and for some it's a way for them to share their creative talent.  It's great to have parents provide meals and it's always easier to order pizza, but don't overlook the chance for a teen to practice hospitality by preparing the food for your meeting.
    • Maintain Your Facebook Page - Encourage teens in your group to take responsibility, with your direction, for your various social media such as Facebook and Twitter, regularly updating your pages to keep your youth, parents, and Church connected to your youth ministry activities.
    • Lead Small Groups - Many youth ministries have had great success dividing their teens into small groups that meet away from church for prayer and study with youth acting as the primary leaders.  Doing so means taking time to train the teens so they are comfortable in their roles. See here and here for resources that might be of help.  
    •  Plan Your Mission Work - Many youth are passionate about mission. Tap into the energy by letting them seek out needs in the community and beyond and help you and your adult team plan and organize service projects and mission trips for the group.
    • Connect with other Teens - Challenge a team of youth to intentionally nurture other members of the group by sending encouraging notes, writing cards to those who are sick, praying for group members, and actively encouraging youth who have no church home to come and visit your ministry. 
    This is just the tip of the iceberg. What would you add?


    Rachel said...

    When I was working in congregational ministry, I created a curriculum preparing youth for baptism/church membership. I felt very strongly that one thing we needed to do was to incorporate youth into the life of the church, not just have them segregated into their youth ministries. So the class was designed to help them become full members of the congregation. We learned how to read a church budget (and to discuss what our budget said about our values); they would be voting on budgets after all. We learned how the church operated, exploring all of the various ministries in the church and learning what they did. It was interesting to do this in conjunction with a spiritual gifts inventory and then ask the youth where they saw themselves serving in the church. It led to a lot of youth serving on various church committees in the years to come, from worship to media/technology to fellowship. We even had one young man who had a heart for stewardship who eagerly joined the stewardship committee at age 15. He taught his pastor a thing or two about stewardship, and really challenged the adults in the congregation to consider their giving of time and money.

    Nikomas said...

    I have a philosophy: "If your youth program can still happen if no teens show up, then eventually no teens will show up. They're obviously not needed there."