We all talk about the staggering number of teenagers that step away from the church after they graduate high school (or even before). One of the best ways to keep teenagers involved in church is to get them involved. It’s true that many adults have an issue with letting go and handing responsibility over to a teenager, but there are so many great things that can happen when this happens.
If we don’t get them involved, one of two things can happen:
- They might leave the church, because it doesn’t really seem like they matter.
- They won’t know how to serve within the church since they were never allowed as a teen.
As you start to brainstorm a few areas of your church where teenagers can be involved, I’ll help start that process by sharing a few areas where our students are regularly serving in our church:
- Leading groups of students (we have a four-year age-gap rule)
- Announcements (live and video)
- Student band
- Tech and sound
- Teaching (on occasion and with help)
- Leading groups of children
- Classroom prep
- Tech and sound
- Video projects
- Offering/Communion servers
- Parking lot attendants
- Door greeters
- Coffee bar
- Office help
- Tech/IT team
- Community outreach events (in various capacities)
- Pastoral care for other students/children
- Service projects
- Mission trips
- Child-care for adult small groups
- Invite them into adult groups/classes
Of course, this is just a starter list. I hope that it sparks your thoughts of how you can involve teenagers in the life of your church. Adults cannot and should not do all the work of the church on their own. If we want teens to stay connected to the church and make it a priority, we need to help them understand they actually matter and are valuable to what happens.
Another benefit that can happen when you start involving teenagers is that they get to rub shoulders with adults who lead and serve within those areas of ministry. Perhaps a mentoring relationship could start up. Maybe they could connect with another family. There are so many great things that can happen when we stop thinking of teenagers as just a bunch of kids. Instead, we need to think of them as contributing members of God’s church!
Yes, I know that making this happen is sometimes harder than saying it needs to happen. Not only do you have to work with teens who aren’t always the most reliable (but I know many adults in the same boat), you also might have to do some convincing with your elders and staff. Let me reassure you, though, that it is totally worth it!
Steve Cullum is the Student Minister at Rockingham Christian Church.
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