By way of quick review, a recent post by one of my Dare 2 Share friends, Jason (click here for his post) led me to this three-part series I’m doing on the potential ways to help churches, specifically, help Student Ministries, not become marginalized and stay a priority for the congregation.
Part one, posted Tuesday (click here to read that post), made the point that a church leadership and the youth ministry team need to Prioritize Philosophy over Personality. Quick translation: create and maintain a philosophy of student ministry that has a foundation and function that will outlast any one personality. I might add, any good Youth Pastor should want this to be the case!
After prioritizing the philosophy, we move on to the second way to avoid the youth ministry becoming marginalized.
Prioritize Congregational In-Reach: A simple principle that is oft-ignored in churches is the visibility of the youth ministry. If the congregation doesn’t hear about the youth or see the youth they don’t have the opportunity to prioritize the youth. You’ve heard it “how come we don’t see the youth at our services?” To be honest this just evokes way too much emotion for many youth-ministry leaders… instead of opening your can of something-or-other and going off about the worship, sermons or liturgy not-being relevant to teens, I suggest the answer is found by simply inviting the congregation to the youth! What would it look like to make the congregation a priority in youth ministry? Create opportunities for the congregation at-large to be involved with you. Here are a couple ideas to start with…
- The last Wednesday of the month is targeted to be youth group plus a different group (children’s ministry; seniors; parents of teens; staff and elders; etc.). Wouldn’t it be a hoot to play a version of “sardines” with parents? How about singing a funked out/hyped up “Jesus loves me” for your worship through song time with the younger kids who adore the teens of the church? What would it look like to have the seniors hear testimonies from teens who are more passionate about Christ then they are their video-game system? Oh and staff and elder night needs to be the night you play Dodge-Ball!
- Quarterly “worship nights” honoring the folk you intend to come to the event. Help your band be mindful of the older part of the congregation who may attend by doing some well-done, but potentially more-upbeat hymns… Help the others in your congregation see the youth as Spirit-gifted individuals able to “be the church” now.
- Small groups with personal invites from “experts” from the congregation. The 80 year-old retired former military man just may have some stories of perseverance your teens could benefit from. The financial advisor may just have some practical advice the 11th grade girls could use right now. Who wouldn’t love to hear the cop-stories from Joe Officer? Everybody has a story, let’s bring some of those stories to our teens!
I can only imagine how many more ideas we could come up with that could lead to a better known-congregation. The end-result is that as teens gain relationship with those outside “Youth”, they will want to go to church for those relationships regardless of worship style, sermon length or quality of communion grape-juice.
On Monday I’ll conclude the three-part “Marginalization” SMS series with one last suggestion:
Prioritize and Publicize Evangelism.
Have a great weekend!