A road map for churches & their youth group
- 5 points to consider -
As Elders and individual members you are encouraged to:
1. Invest in the young ones Ė They are the future:
Youíve been praying for growth and deliverance and some of your answers are vested in these youth (whether the ones you see in front of you today or the ones that will walk through those swinging doors one day). If you donít invest in them now, you as a church will never see the returns.
Iím one of those young people who the church invested in and now as an adult, I just want to give back in every way I can. The dangers of not investing in our youth are too great to ignore (we see the results on the TV, in the newspapers and hear about them from the parents in the community every day). One such example involves a 15 year old youth:
At a church in South West London (familiar to my husband and I) there was not a youth group until recently. Prior to its existence, a 15 year old young man got involved with the wrong crowd and ended up dealing in drugs, the result of which found him in prison for 12months.
Many believed that if a youth group was in place at the time or at least a community-based project, such event could possibly have been avoided. As a church, we wonít readily put our hands up and admit we are partly to be blamed but it does boil down to us at the end of the day. We are the foundation on which a community is built and it Ďtakes a community to bring up a child.í
Looking at the situation in many churches and their youth, there are quite a few including those who do not attend youth fellowship on a regular basis who are at the age where peer pressure is quite high (especially during school holidays) and they can be influenced by the crowd. Having a youth group will teach them the importance of Christian values and allow them that forum to air their views and get answers to burning desires. This in return provides them with a firm foundation from which they can draw during their adult years.
2. Have a prayer session dedicated to the restoration and/ or continuation of the youth fellowship:
The youth group is part of the church's ministry and is just as important as any other part of the body of the church, so special care and attention is needed.
3. Give volunteers the support they need Ė it is part of the youth investment:
Praying for volunteers should not be where the support ends. They need physical assistance. Too often we assume that they are ok and are doing just fine only to find out, when itís too late, that they are burnt-out and de-motivated. The best of us can get that way and we donít often let the elders know exactly how we are feeling because we donít want to be seen as complainers. This can be avoided (get them away from the meeting environment and they will open up Ė thatís been one of the things Iíve realised in my time as a youth leader). Put us in a meeting and no one has anything to say or the reverse where thereís any and everything to say but nothing accomplished. However, put us in an informal setting and we could have a healthy discussion for hours which brings forth conscious decisions. This is the best place to find out how your volunteers are feeling and what they have to offer.
4. Get to know your young people individually, so that you know and can care for their individual needs:
That way you can tailor the lessons so that everyone benefits and not just one or two out of the group. Teenagers like it when you speak their language, they feel included and apart ofÖ Otherwise, boredom and lack of interest will be their reality.
5. Provide/use alternative teaching methods:
Take them away from the confines of the church building. Use the facilities of other organisations that specialises in youth activities. Also use the outdoors (sports activities in the park etc.) enjoy the beauty of Godís creation.
Recruiting volunteers is another story Ė so many angles can be taken. There are many websites like Christiannet.net that provides helpful material in the various approaches you can take.
If the one youíve been waiting for is already in your midst, then your prayers may need to be directed towards the anointing of such person. If the volunteer is anyone who has been involved in some ways with the youth fellowship before, then the prayer focus should be on their anointing and also healing from past failures and hurt. You should also give them assurance that they will get the support they need (including the provision of resources needed to carry out the programme).
Naturally this is a two-way situation where both elders and volunteers will need to air their views and contribute to the process being successful. Volunteers will come and go, as the past have taught us, but the process will continue if the church is actively involved. It is the responsibility of the church to look after its young. That will give continuity for the youth. They need a Ďsafe havení and if itís not provided in the church they will find it elsewhere.
Copyright © J. S. Ramkissoon 2006
Janice, a freelance writer, lives in the UK and enjoys spending time with her husband, Vince and their son, Javin. She uses her gift to encourage others towards a deeper relationship with God, through her inspirational pieces while her travel articles provide general advice for the holiday-maker.
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