Plug Youth In!
How to help students in small churches grow in their faith.
Perhaps you are wondering how to help youth grow in their faith without a youth group. Smaller congregations might not be able to afford a youth minister or even have enough youth to sustain a regular meeting. We can relate.
I attend a smaller congregation in East Flat Rock, NC. The church has been through a transitional period over the past five years. It closed its doors. Then it was rebirthed as a new church, Hope United. After a season of being mentored by Mills River UMC, Hope began to spread its wings. Rev. Todd McCullough was appointed in the summer of 2013. Since that time we have begun a children’s ministry and many other local outreaches. However, we have not had enough youth for a traditional youth group. Our solution has been to help youth grow by finding a place for them to serve.
Adam and Trayton are high school students. They have not grown up connected to church. Todd took time when they first visited to invest in them. He invited them to plug in and to find a place to serve. In our children’s ministry, we use the Orange Curriculum. With this model, there are so many ways for people to serve. Retired women of our church put together supplies on a weekly basis. Parents help lead small groups. College students help give the talks. And there is always a place for Adam and for Trayton. On any given Sunday, Trayton can be found running the soundboard or assisting with the small group. Adam has helped as an assistant for the talks. When we offered Vacation Bible School, they both plugged in and led stations. During our Christmas Outreach, they were an integral part of planning and running the event.
I spent many years serving as a paid Youth Minister in different sized congregations. We worked hard to provide programming, discipleship options and mission trips. I believe all of these things are valuable for youth. However, the traditional local church model of a separate youth group is not the only way. I have seen tremendous growth in Adam and Trayton as they have learned to serve. They care deeply for our children. They are faithful to help. And they are also growing in their faith. If you are looking for a way to help youth in your church grow, it might be time to stop programming for them and start finding ways for them to serve others. It is not a traditional view of youth ministry. But it will help your youth grow into mature Christians as they learn what it means to honor Christ through serving.
Rev. John Isley, Assistant Director Camp Tekoa