Teenagers are a segment of the population that often gets avoided or overlooked. This can be due to misunderstandings, the rebellious antics of a few high-profile cases, or just a lack of desire to get to know them. Those of us who spend a lot of time working with teenagers understand there are challenges and also tremendous joys that come from this work. Teenagers are at a very important place in their life and they need to be engaged in something that will encourage them to follow Jesus. That might come through family programs, youth programs or some combination of the two, but in either case, we must reach teenagers for Christ.
Even churches with vibrant youth ministry programs are always seeking how they might do it better. One really practical way is getting the entire church involved. No, I wouldn’t want everyone in the church to come to youth group, but just to be involved. I have come up with 10 ways churches can support their youth ministries. I believe that if churches start to do these things, youth ministries would improve and ultimately more teens would be reached with the Gospel.
10 Ways Churches Can Help Their Youth Ministries
Ask how you can pray for the youth ministry and then do it – It would seem like this is an area where we can all do better. I know I should probably share more often about the ways people can pray for the ministry. There are some wonderful prayer warriors in every church who might not want to ever hang out with teenagers, but will pray for them fervently. This is often an unrealized, underutilized resource in our churches.
When you see teens doing something awesome, tell them – If all we ever do is remind our kids when they do something wrong, we have missed an important opportunity. I know I have had conversations with adults in the past who are irritated by just about everything that teens do. These people do not make good youth leaders, just in case you were wondering. The encouragement for them and for everyone is to look for something positive and let them know you appreciate that. Do you see a teen helping at a church event? Let them know you appreciate them. Over time these little things add up and they see themselves as a more valuable member of the church, not just a nuisance that is tolerated.
Stop being so business oriented when it comes to youth ministry — I have read a lot of job descriptions and have been disturbed by them. I know it is important to strategically plan, cast vision and pay attention to attendance, but that should not take up the bulk of the time. Youth ministry is about relationships. Please help your youth ministries by not getting carried away with marketing principles and branding.
Look at the money spent as an investment, not as another line item — There are so many youth ministries that are not getting much funding to do ministry. The budget doesn’t need to include golf outings to Hawaii, but it should allow for things like food or other relational interaction. Every dollar spent should be looked at as an investment in God’s Kingdom, which will be returned with Kingdom dividends.
Share your resources, ideas, stories, time with the youth ministry — You don’t have to sign a year-long commitment in order to be involved. If you have something that could be useful to the youth ministry, please share that. (i.e speed boat, beach house) You might have an idea for a game or event. You might have a story that could be used as an illustration for something. At the same time, you might have time available to help with a certain event. Please share those things and be involved in whatever simple way you are able. You will be blessed in that.
Stay informed by reading newsletters, e-mails, or following along on Facebook or Twitter. – One of the best ways to stay informed with what is going on in the youth ministry in your church is to read the communication that is put out. This will give you information that will help you know how to pray, how to give, and how you might encourage those working in the trenches of youth ministry.
Keep the junk you don’t want out of the youth room — I know that people think they are being helpful when they donate their couches from 1970 to the youth room for that “retro” feel. Well, let me just let you know that these couches are no longer made for a reason. If you don’t want it in your living room, we don’t want it in our youth room. That also goes for all the clutter that people will place in the youth room for storage.
Don’t get annoyed with teenagers who text during church if you are doing the same — I know this might not apply to everyone, but I have seen enough people with their phones in church to know that it is not just teenagers who are texting during the sermon. Model what it means to disconnect and focus on God.
Thank the youth ministry volunteers — There are people who work alongside people like me who, unlike me, have other full-time jobs they work and yet they still manage to come and minister to teenagers. It is truly a blessing to work with them and churches who have solid volunteers are really blessed. Make sure you take time to thank them for the way they show Jesus to teenagers.
Realize that youth culture is constantly changing, but God’s love is unchanging– I think this is very important for church members who might be well removed from their teenage years. Youth culture is rapidly changing, which makes it very difficult for our teenagers. You don’t have to get it all in order to demonstrate the love of God to youth. Patience, grace and a sense of humor goes a long way in youth ministry.
What have you done to encourage, support or be involved with the youth ministry? What do you think is needed in order to help a youth ministry succeed?