Involving Teens in Ministry

The teen years are vitally important in any number of ways. One area the youth worker must keep in mind is that during the period of life where teens enter young adulthood they are faced with decisions as to what to do with their lives and coming to grips with the will of God. I for one, had to the call of God to Christian ministry confirmed during this time. With this in mind we must strive to include in our youth programs opportunities for youths to sample ministries. Often our programs are overloaded with making contributions to their lives but we must allow them to give something back to the ministry. Perhaps this would be a good time for the reader to take a brief mental survey of your ministry to teens. Question one. How much time and energy is devoted to teaching? Question two. How much time and energy is devoted to fun and fellowship activities? Question three. How much time and energy is devoted to providing service opportunities? If we are out of balance toward teaching and fun and fellowship we can perhaps attract teens to participate in our youth programs but if we do not include opportunities for teens to use the gifts God has given them we run the risk of loosing them. One essential purpose of youth ministry is to produce mature young people who will faithfully serve the Lord and His church.

To assist the youth leader in planning a wide variety of ministry opportunities, the following suggestions are given. This list is by no means exhaustive, let this get your mind rolling and see what else you can come up with. Also many of the ideas will not work in every youth group and every setting. But if you can find a few ideas that can be used, your teens will be richer for it.

1. Teaching Opportunities.

Teens can be encourage to take part in teaching each other. Seek volunteers to study and share on specific topics or scripture passages. Have small groups develop practical applications to the Bible lesson and teach the rest of the group. Other teaching opportunities could be in the Sunday School ministry or the Vacation Bible School. If your church carries on other ministries to children such as AWANA, Christian Service Brigade, or Pioneer clubs, these often can use teens in some teaching capacity. Older teens usually enjoy the opportunity to teach younger children. They will need help and guidance from more experienced teachers. Perhaps they can become teaching apprentices under older teachers or they can team teach with a mature partner. Those Christian teens that God has equipped to teach can begin a lifetime of fruitful ministry through teaching opportunities that you provide.

2. Worship Opportunities.

Those in your youth group can find a wealth of possibilities for service during times of worship in your church. Many youth groups have used the "Youth Night" or "Youth Service" ideas successfully. In this, the teens are allowed to take over as many roles as is possible in the service. They can lead the singing, be an usher, provide special music, both instrumental and vocal as well playing for congregational singing, do dramas, puppets, give testimonies, read the scriptures, lead in prayer, share devotionals, or even preach. Even without a "youth service" teens can be encouraged to participate regularly in the worship services of your church.

3. Service Opportunities.

These allow the teen to have hands-on experience in meeting the needs of others. There are always needs with the church property that teens can assist with such as grass cutting, painting or cleaning. Also, there are no doubt those within the congregation that could use some willing hands to serve in meeting their needs. Perhaps visiting or cooking for an elder person, or perhaps meeting the needs of handicapped person. Serving others should be lifetime habit that is established early.

4. cross-cultural Opportunities.

We must always strive to expose young people to missions and confront them with the knowledge that the world is composed of many different kinds of peoples. Many churches and mission organizations offer short-term missions experiences specifically designed for High school and college aged persons. Gathering information on such programs or involving your youth group in such might result in the Lord's leading to a lifetime spent on the mission field. In many communities ethnic diversity is present. One may discover world missions is as close as another part of town. Some research here may open doors of opportunity.

5. Evangelistic Opportunities.

The great commission includes all of God's children regardless of age. Young people can be quite effective at door to door canvassing, or in passing out gospel tracts. One youth group I am familiar with obtains a booth at a county fair and presents the gospel with puppet plays, and by sharing the gospel through face painting and music. Evangelism within the group should also not be ignored or viewed as the job of the leader only. Teens should be instructed to share Christ by word and by testimony to those whom come into the group. The joint witness of a group of dedicated young people can be a powerful tool. The great commission does not stop when a person accepts Christ. We must also teach them to observe the things Christ commanded (Matt. 28:20). Teens can be recruited for the work of making disciples. Accountability partners or groups can be composed that help teens be disciplined in the having of personal devotions and in attendance at church activities. We can use peer pressure in a positive way.

Ministry opportunities can become a source of renewed vitality to your youth ministry as well as allowing an opportunity for their lives to be impacted by the Lord. Pray for guidance as you seek to lead your group into service for our God.

Jesse Waggoner
Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

©1997 Calvary Baptist Church