When something good happens to you, what do you do? Do you stay quiet, keeping the good news to yourself? No! Of course not! You want to tell everyone what has happened to you; sometimes it feels as if you could burst if you don’t share the happiness.
Now think about your youth and their feelings regarding church. Are they so excited that they can’t possibly keep quiet about their experiences? Are they inviting friends to services and sharing the love of Jesus with everyone they meet?
In a 2014 study conducted by the Institute for Church Ministry, Adventist young people were asked if they felt the youth programming at their church was sufficiently meeting the needs of its youth. Sixty-three percent of young people “strongly agreed” or “agreed” with this statement. However, 27% “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed.”
As part of the same study, young people were asked if they gladly invited their friends to worship services at church. Thirty-four percent indicated that thisstatement was “always true” or “often true.” Two thirds (66%) indicated that this was only “sometimes true,” “rarely true,” or even “never true.” While it is encouraging that many young people feel the church is providing meaningful programming and that some feel comfortable bringing their peers to worship services, there is definitely room for growth. If youth programming were to become more inviting for the youth currently attending churches, they would hopefully be more likely to tell their friends about church and invite them to church-related functions and services.
So how can you make your church more “youth friendly?” The website Rethinking Youth Ministry has some great ideas for doing just that!
- Get rid of curriculum. While this may seem radical, remember that your job is to mentor young people and lead them to Jesus, not just to teach a lesson. Use youth programming to focus on current issues and discuss real needs, using the Bible to guide your conversation.
- Get out of the building. Who says that Sabbath School or Bible study have to be held within the church? Why not take the group out to the church lawn or meet at a local park? Or, perhaps meet for a midweek service at a local donut or ice cream shop? A change of scenery can be just what young people need to get out of a rut.
- Make youth programming intergenerational. Youth programming should not feel as through it is “us” against “them” referring to the older generation). By moving from a teen-centered model to a church-centered model, you create bonds between people of all ages. There is much your young people can learn from older church members, but there is also much the youth can teach, as well!
- Offer a variety of experiences. Just as a teacher might use a rotation of activities within a school classroom, use different approaches to focus on the same spiritual concept. This might be done through drama, music, art, writing, reading scripture, etc. By mixing up the normal delivery method, you are able to reach different kinds of learners in new ways.
It’s no secret that the youth are leaving the Church in alarming numbers. We must do all we can to excite them about coming to church, but even more so about Jesus. It should be our goal for them to be so in love with Him that they just can’t possibly keep quiet!
Image from Canva©.