How Large Congregations Can Effectively Develop Young Leaders

steepleThanks for the feedback from yesterday’s post about the small church gift to young leaders.   I realize that every church has it’s unique ministry to the community and ultimately to the world.  Just as a smaller school district affords a higher percentage of kids with an opportunity to play sports or an instrument, a student in s smaller church has a greater chance of taking part in  leadership.

However, the larger church has the same call to share the faith and leadership development with the next generation and has option for accomplishing the goal.  A congregation over 500 in average attendance must become very intentionally to do this.

One time I asked a guy from a church of 15,000 to lead a seminar I entitled, “Thinking Like A Big Church.”  He laughed when I gave him that title because he said his pastor keeps running around with the mantra, “Think Like A Small Church People!”

It’s true, a larger church, if healthy, is made up of many smaller churches.  And it’s in those places you can develop the next generation.  Within these small groups, ministry teams or communities, students can participate:  in worship teams, as children’s ministry leaders, in tech ministries, in hospitality and greeting ministries, and more.  Larger churches also have the structure to help create formal internships and ministry roles for students and youth adults.  They become part of smaller, more focused leadership teams.  Additionally, in larger churches, student leaders get a glimpse of what could be – a big vision, big style, big opportunities.  And this is helpful DNA as they serve in ministry throughout their lives.

On a side note, could there be some correlation between the fact that many current church leaders grew up in smaller churches and the churches they are leading are also small?  I realize this a ridiculous generalization, because there are a million other factors.  But I do think one thing the large church offers to students is the “what could be” attitude.

Last week, I was impressed at our church worship services when a Jr. High student and a High School student helped served communion.  Someone planned ahead and intentionally called upon the next generation to help serve in worship.  It was awesome.  But it wouldn’t have happened naturally.  It took a phone call to two families, from a “smaller group” with in the church.”  And, at least for us, that was rare.  As neat as it was to see those students serving in that way, that was the first time I had witnesses that in several years.

Here’s an example from my own life:

When I was in high school, we attended a church with an average attendance of 1000 people.  This was a couple decades ago when the church typically built spaces big enough to hold everyone at the same time – not like today when services are just added in smaller spaces.  So, though I had general parts in the Christmas musical and choirs, I never pulled my guitar out and sang a song during worship.  However, I was asked to lead children’s worship with my guitar.  I did that every Sunday morning.  Additionally, one of the Sunday school teachers invited me to sing a special song for their adult Sunday School Class.  I loved it.  The opportunity to pick up the guitar and crank out a song or two for a group of 25-40 people was a great experience. It was an opportunity to serve.  I was part of a large church, serving in small segments.

Part way through my high school years, we moved to a church of just over 200.  The first night of youth group, my brothers and I doubled the youth ministry attendance – there was a total of 6 of us there.  Before that year was over, I had practically become one of the leaders.  I did music, helped with leadership, led, prayed, sang in church, did the kick off concert one fall, etc.

The second church happened naturally without much formal invitation.  The first church experience happened with only formal invitations.  And that may be the difference.  Large church ministry leaders: how are formally extending invitations for youth and young adults to serve?

Do you have a student or young adult in mind that you would like to pull into leadership?

Is there an opening in your worship ministry, student ministry or hospitality ministry that you could include someone in the next generation?

Are there tech roles, social media roles or other video jobs that you could pull in the next generation to help with?

Create spaces for students in your church.  And the larger your church is, the more specific and formalized your invitation will need to be.


7 Unique Aspects for Rural Ministry

7 Steps for a New Youth Pastor

Help Your Students Respond to God’s Call

Register for the Blaze Ministry Magazine!

Leave a Comment

10 + 15 =