Students need to be involved in your youth group. Young or old. Experienced or inexperienced. Boys and girls. Seniors and freshmen. Middle school and high school. As their leaders, we need to teach them how to take our positions. If we believe in this generation as the Church of today that will be leading the world in the future, we need to show them we mean business by passing them the torch.
If your youth group wants to host a big event in your youth room, or start a new discipleship group, or organize a collection of food for homeless people in your city, you need students to stand behind it. Their excitement, advertising, and heart for what you’re doing will be the driving force to help make your vision a reality. As leaders, we need to ask ourselves how we incorporate and involve students in leadership as well. What roles and responsibilities can they take to grow into positions that they may fill someday in the future?
Students are why we do what we do. We serve them, pray for them, lose sleep for them, go on weekend retreats with them, and try to keep them connected in the Church. We invest all we can in them during the time we have to be their youth leaders, pastors, and mentors. So with the time we have during their middle and high school careers, we need to be active in growing their leadership and capabilities to serve in the Church. They are the future that needs to be set into action today.
What roles need to be filled in your youth group? Do you need more worship leaders in your band? Creative director roles? People to run slides or tech? Greeters at the door? The people you should be recruiting for these jobs are your students. The students that are actively involved each week in your church are there because they love your ministry and want to be there. Find those students, approach them, and tell them that their gifts have a purpose and can be used to keep your youth group functioning smoothly and more effectively. Many students want to serve. Some students just need to be asked. There are students that think their gifts and abilities are inefficient compared to the speakers and the singers on stage. God has given some amazing social skills to students that need to be used in your youth group! Their ability to talk to people and welcome people can create a whole new atmosphere at your church that will welcome hundreds of students in your doors! But those abilities need to be brought out by you, the leaders. You might even know some students who don’t have parents that recognize their God-given talents. Your role to invest in students can be so crucial in this area of students’ lives. Some of your students need to verbally hear what they are gifted at for confirmation that it could be used in the Church.
When you have students filling these important roles in your youth group, they can start learning about how the Church functions before and afterwards. Many who walk in the doors only see the edited videos and the rehearsed songs and sermon on stage. They don’t see the prep work and prayer that is put into each service you plan. Letting students be behind the scenes to see this process will help them learn the heart of ministry. Being a pastor is not an easy job. It takes blood, sweat, and tears to organize each service and event your church puts on. As you invite students that may not have experience in leading and serving their peers in a church context, you and other adult leaders can show them the importance of serving in youth group by teaching them how to serve best with their skills.
I attended youth group for many years in middle school in high school. Being a part of the worship team, creative team, and production team showed me how everything we planned and executed had a part in how my peers would meet with Jesus that night. Helping out with the games helped new attendees and regular attendees connect with one another and laugh together after a long week. The lights and lyrics helped people focus in on the moment when we worshipped. The creative elements for worship set up a time for students to hear from God and respond in front of their peers. Each of these things I was a part of showed me how God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. I saw the importance of each element, and how God gets glory through it all.
Because of the opportunities my adult leaders gave me in youth group, I got to see how God was so clearly calling me to continue serving in ministry as an adult. I now am attending college for a degree in Christian Ministry and am learning more about the behind the scenes work in the Church. The professors talk about planning services and how to create an atmosphere for worship while I think back to the specific opportunities I had to do both of those things in my youth group. It is because of my youth leaders’ investment in my leadership that I now feel called and more equipped to challenge and mentor those younger than me to serve in their youth groups.
Olivia is a first year student at Indiana Wesleyan University and presents Enlightened, a student-led worship experience at public schools, to students across the country.
© 2016, Never The Same