WF YM: Raise Youth in the Church Family

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Youth need community. That statement has been repeated often and used as a reason (or excuse) for the many things we do in youth ministry. The result is we have our youth programs, youth rooms, and most currently, some churches are even running their own youth worship services. Such youth ministry does provide community, but teens also know how two-faced teens are because they are. Teens need community larger than their peer group. You and your volunteer leaders (if you have any!) are not enough. The good news is there is a ready made community in the church family.

 

I’ve heard other ministers describe youth ministries as “orphaning structures” because youth graduate from youth programs without being connected to the church family. Why do teens disappear after graduation? It is not because the church has a weak college and career program. It is because the now young adult’s only connection to the church, the youth ministry, has been outgrown and that connection was never really connected to the church–other than through the church budget.

After involving parents in your youth ministry, involve as many other members of your congregation as you can. They don’t have to be at the weekly youth meetings. It may be just once a year or even once overall. I literally spend most of my time in preparations to set a long list of adults up to interact with the teens at my church. When they do volunteer I make sure they are not abandoned. And for all of those who have never volunteered, I have set them up to effectively interact with the teens and I doubt they even know it.This gives us an ironic job description. The youth worker really spends a great deal of time working with adults when his/her job title is the youth. From experience I can tell you that this does work well.