Whether your church is small, medium or large, integrating youth into the overall life of your church grows them into connection and membership in your church and teaches lifelong practices of participation and discipleship. Youth bring the same variety of Spirit-given gifts as all Christians. Inviting youth to share those gifts adds to the vitality of any church and emphasizes the importance of all people as members of the body of Christ.
Begin by involving youth and young adults in all aspects of worship: read Scripture, lead prayers, lead and/or write the Call to Worship or other liturgy. Work with the youth in teaching them how to speak in public, how to pronounce difficult words in Scripture, and what part prayers and liturgy play in the life of the church. Ask them to dream up interesting announcements or participate in drama.
For those not quite ready to jump into the spotlight, ease them into action as ushers or greeters, or ask them to help serve communion. Invite youth and young adults to be part of the Worship Team. Ask them what it is about worship that touches them and feeds their soul; what do they like and what do they find boring or confusing? Let them help design the worship space. They may surprise everyone with new ways to enliven a sanctuary or worship space.
Audio/Visual Ministry is a great place for youth who want to serve behind the scenes. Many youth and young adults know more about technology than the average church member – take advantage of those young brains. Begin by pairing a youth with a knowledgeable adult then stand back and see what you can learn from them.
Invite youth to lead or assist with children’s choir, pageants, and VBS, with the emphasis on lead! While you will need to have adults present (Safe Sanctuary standards aim to protect teenagers as well as smaller children!), youth can bring life and new energy to children’s ministry and have endless gifts to offer younger children. Be sure to invite young people to training and look for opportunities to encourage and develop their leadership skills.
Team and Committee Members
Introduce youth to serving on church teams or committees. Like adults, youth can bring new life and new vision to any committee. Many youth are already serving in the community and fit well on Missions Teams. Inviting youth onto the Worship team will give older members a glimpse into what young people value in worship. Think youth wouldn’t be an asset to Trustees? Chances are there is a youth in your church who would love the opportunity to learn how to fix the furnace or run cable for a new network.
Invite youth to participate in church ministry with a personal invitation. Don’t just send a message with the youth minister or adult volunteers. Take the time to meet with the youth group or Sunday School and share why you volunteer your time with the church. Explain the different opportunities for involvement. Make it sound interesting. If it’s not interesting, ask them what they might do to make it more exciting.
Let youth try out different areas of ministry. If they aren’t ready for a three-year commitment, invite them to visit different ministry areas to determine where they are called. Develop some one-time or short-term opportunities to serve, perhaps on special projects such as fundraisers, Fall Kickoff, Advent planning or mission and service projects.
As the church adapts to a 21st-century culture, we need young people to learn how to be church so they might lead us into the future. And whether they will admit it or not, youth and young adults need the church and the people of God to embrace and welcome them to be a part of the whole family of God.
For more ideas about ways to involve youth in church mission and ministry, contact Sacred Stones Ministries!