There is a way to help get and keep students connected to your church. It’s really simple. But it’s not always easy. However, it’s the call of every church and ever believer to take seriously the work of handing down the faith to the next generation. Dwight Moody once said something like this: “If I had it to do all over again, I’d skip everything I’ve done and strictly work with young people.”
Too often, we think the only faith action is with the adults, but statistics prove that most people who choose to live for Jesus do so before the age of 18! That’s just one reason to put some intentional effort into ministry to children and students.
SITUATIONS I’VE SEEN:
I know many smaller churches struggle with very few students in worship, maybe even no students in their church. “How can we connect with the next generation?”, they’re asking. Here are a few ideas for a church to reach students even if they don’t have many youth in attendance on Sunday.
There are some pastors who think this stuff is for the youth pastor or student ministry volunteers. But in reality, the pastor is the cultural architect for the church and helps shape the way the church reaches out and responds to the next generation! Your job, your presence and your support is crucial whether you have a full time staff, part time staff or volunteer youth ministry leader. [Student Ministry: Fight it or Fund it]
There may be a youth worker who is serving in a church but is trying to do everything alone. There’s a mistake in thinking that your only job is to be with the kids. In reality, part of your job is to help equip the church to partner with you in reaching out to students. [Read: 44 Things Youth Workers Might Delegate]
I’ve seen many student ministry pastors in mid to large size churches that become too program driven, overwhelmed with ministry details pertaining to the church kids, left with little time to be engaged with students outside the church. A full time youth pastor must plan to spend 25% of his or her time developing other adult leaders and 25% of his or her time modeling what it means to be connected to students – through actively being engaged in their lives.
I’d like to help respond to each of the situations with these four words / phrases that you need to consider as you are striving to reach the next generation:
Your heart must be stirred to reach out to students! Your heart must be broken for all the student who are lost. Pray for a stirring! Pray for the congregation hearts and lives to be stirred with passion for reaching the next generation. Pray for a stirring in the hearts of the students in your community. There must be a sense of passion and urgency in your church.
Go where the kids are. Be present there. Step into their lives. Don’t try to become a teenager, but love teenagers. The price of incarnational ministry is high – the student ministry leader is not in her office as much, the emphasis on developing adults increases and it’s huge time commitment. But there are ways to accomplish it. And students will respond as we build relationships with them. I once heard that students don’t rebel against authority, but against lack of relationship.
COMMUNITY OF PARTICIPANTS
Students need to be connected to six or seven Christ loving adults. There must be a web of relationships in the church and in faith development. The lone student ministry worker trying to retain the next generation in church has potential to end badly. It requires partnerships, intentional frameworks for connections, and an invitation for adults to get involved. There are so many ways these partnership can be formed.
Expect more from yourself, from your church and from the students. Document what full engagement in the ministry and the discipleship process looks like for your church. There are ways to lovingly help change the culture toward a more high expectation ministry. Students will respond.
What would it look like if you church took seriously the call to reach the next generation?
To aid in this process and to be helpful to your church, we have created a video series called “GETTING AND KEEPING STUDENTS CONNECTED TO YOUR MINISTRY”. During these four videos (each about 10 minutes long), I expound of each of these four words/phrases. In addition to the four videos, when you purchase this online resource, you will also receive four bonus videos, written summaries, discussions questions and actions steps for each session and my teaching notes and other resources we used at The Well, a gathering for youth workers last fall.
The cost of this series is $89.99, which is a fraction of the cost to take your team to a live training event!
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