A few months back I wrote a post titled “10 Ways Churches Can Help Their Youth Ministries.” This was never intended to be a one-sided deal, so today I give you 10 things that youth ministries can do to help churches. Please add your ideas to the end.
Be Involved – One of the easiest ways to help the church and be a part of the church is to show up to various non-youth functions. If there is a church work day, make it known at youth group so that some youth show up. Even things like having teens show up for the hymn sing or the missions event will produce both good will in the church and also promote a mult-generational approach to youth ministry instead of a segregated one. If babysitting is needed for an event, perhaps some of the youth can provide that. If help is needed for VBS or other program, offer to serve.
Respect – Respect is something that many people feel is lacking in the younger generations. This does not have to be the case! As a youth ministry we can show that we respect the building by cleaning up after ourselves and fixing the things we break playing games in the church basement. We can also show respect for the people by demonstrating a willingness to hear from them as valuable members of Christ’s body, not just as older “out of touch” people.
Lose the Edge- I guess this goes with respect, but youth ministries should not be doing things just to be edgy. Every church is different in terms of the things that are acceptable and not acceptable. At the same time, if you know it will come across as edgy or even confused as some form of rebellion, reconsider it. Youth ministries need to avoid the attitude that communicates, “this is the church of today, so get over it.” I have a feeling this is not what Christ had in mind when he called us to love one another.
Communicate- If someone does not have students involved in the youth ministry, they might not even know what is going on. It is important to tell them so that they can pray and support what is going on. I have found that many of them do want to know. Do all you can to share what God is doing in the youth ministry! Share both the joys and the challenges. Enlisting more people to pray will only prove to benefit the ministry and bring more glory to God.
Invite The Church – If you are having a band come in for some event, maybe you want to invite the other church members to come also. If there are a lot of older people in the church, there might be an opportunity to have some sort of gathering together. We have done a dinner with the senior group before and had teens sit with them. We have also done a camp out every spring with the guys and have invited other men in the church to come. If someone in the church has some sort of skill they can share, have them come and share it with the group. There are ways to do this that fosters community and intergenerational mentoring.
Say “Thank You.” – The truth is that your ministry today is the result of someone else’s prayer and hard work in the past. Make sure you operate out of gratitude for the people and let the students in the ministry know this also. Above all, thank God for calling you to serve!
Pray for Others – You don’t just want to ask for prayer for your own ministry, but you want to also offer to pray for others. Pray for ministries that are geared to children and adults alike. Pray for the needs of the church during youth group. It will help them to look outward a bit, something that many teens have a hard time with.
Visit Shut-Ins – There are likely people in the church who are not able to get out. How might your ministry serve them? It might be making some sort of baked item. It could be sending a note of encouragement or even going to visit. This sort of thing has a high impact on all people involved.
See The World – I know it sounds appealing to go on a world traveling tour, that is not what I mean. Instead take time to look at what is going on with missionaries you support. It might be taking a mission trip with some people in the church, or it might be showing some videos or photos. However it looks in your context is not as important as it is that you intentionally expose teens to what God is doing around the world. Help them look past the tater tots in the lunch room to a world with diverse people and diverse needs.
Support Leadership – I have heard from far too many youth workers with significant issues with their Senior Pastor or leadership in the church. This might be the unfortunate case, but do not ever undermine the leadership of the church to the group. Support the leaders God has place over you and pray for them publicly.
That is my list of ten ways youth ministries can help their church. I know there are others. What else would you add to this list? I think it can be at helpful conversation for all youth groups as they recognize their place as a part of the church and not as some separate entity. When this happens, Jesus is seen more clearly because we are working together for Him.
“May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have love them even as you have loved me.” – John 17:23