COR Position Paper, p. 18-19.
Having considered some ways to meet the needs of youths, let us now consider how we can work together to see that these things are happening more consistently and intentionally in our congregations. I recommend the following strategies:
- Provide at church a setting in which teens can gather to express and discuss their needs and fears. One way to do this is to providing a teen small group moderated by a caring and mature Christian adult. The small group could meet before or after services, or during the teaching part of the main service (though the better strategy is to make the main service teen friendly, and have the teen small group before or after main church).
- Provide times when youths can get away together and with caring, mature Christian adults. Retreats are great. So are trips to fun places. Many churches offer weekends, summer camps and other events for youths. Take advantage of these opportunities to build closeness among your youths, and for them to bond more closely with adult sponsors and leaders.
- Plug your youths—your teens in particular—into meaningful, consistent ministry within your congregation. Do not just have a youth day at church a couple of times a year when the teens do most of the worship service. Rather, give them a place in ministry week-in and week-out.
For example, do you have youths on your worship team? How about a drama team? Are youths frequently offering congregational prayers and helping with ushering. Do you have a mature youth on your congregation’s advisory council? Think about how youths can be active in all the ministries of the congregation.
- Rainer, Thom S. and Geiger, Eric. (2006). Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.
Simple church leaders are strategic with their programming. They are abhor the concept of doing programs because of tradition or the need to have something on the calendar. They view programs as tools to place people in the pathway of God’s morphing.
Lessons on strategic programming:
- Begin with your clearly defined process – you must begin with the process not the programs
- Choose one program for each phase of your process – multiple programs for each phase of the process divides attention and energy
- Design each program for a specific aspect of the process – each program should be distinct from the others Place the programs in sequential order (P. 140-142).
Practical Ideas for Involving Youth (Youth Ministries Department of the General Conference of SDA, Youth First. Involving Our Youth.)
- Hold spiritual gifts seminars to assist young people in discovering and developing their gifts. Empower your young people for leadership by learning what spiritual gifts and natural abilities each has. Train them to employ those gifts in church leadership. Provide the necessary resources, skills, and support to do the job well and then step back and allow them to do it.
- Examine committees at all levels of the church to ensure that youth are represented at the decision-making committees.
- Instruct churches to develop a policy to safeguard the necessity of youth involvement in all aspects of church life.
- Support youth through mentoring and skills-building opportunities.
- Hold seminars for churches on youth involvement.
- Invite local churches to appoint mentors for youth involvement purposes. Ensure that the appointed mentors have sufficient time and energy to excite youth.
- Make sure the nominating committee will choose youth and young adults to fill real and significant roles in church life, not just “token” positions.
- Check that the finance committee will make spending on youth activities and projects a priority.
- Monitor the needs of youth and older church members.
- Examine each level of church organization to assess the current level of youth participation in that particular level.
- Instruct the church board or executive committee to clarify types of youth needed and how they will be involved in the mission of the church.
- Share decision-making power within the church.
- Provide training. Young people may need training in communication, leadership, preaching skills, and other areas. Older church members may also need training in working with youth as well as in technical areas.
- Develop an intern program for youth.
- Promote a strong volunteer program that will be an outlet for participation/involvement.