I believe a church’s health status can usually be measured by the way they are grooming and mentoring the young people within their church. There is something to be said about a thriving youth or college ministry within a church. God has always used young people in order to grow His kingdom. So how can we as a church start to cultivate our young people into roles of leadership in our outreach efforts? Here are some practical ways that we have found to be extremely effective.
1. Create a specific time for young people’s outreach.
Young people respond to activities that are specifically for them. Try planning an outreach that is geared and marketed only for young people on a frequent basis. This is easiest when done through youth and college ministries. At the church I serve at, we offer young adult outreaches at least once a month. The response of our young people in our church to these specific youth or college outreaches has been astounding. I find that our normal church wide outreaches we do every week are starting to be manned and even led by our young people due to us creating specific outreaches for them.
There is an obvious truth that becomes apparent when trying to attract young people: Where the food is, they will be. Try to always go get drinks at Sonic or tacos at Taco Bell after a young people’s outreach. This is a time where sharing what God has done through their service comes out organically and the excitement and hype of the outreach grows larger and larger. Furthermore, leaders are formed during this time of eating and sharing naturally in the same way they are at school at the lunch table. I have found this part of our outreach time to be so important that I have actually budgeted to be able to feed our youth or college students after an outreach… at a place like Taco Bell of course.
This might sound like a contradiction. Let me explain. With every youth or college ministry there are older adults that help out within that ministry. Too many times during youth outreaches, youth adult leaders sit back and watch the youth serve with an “I am too old for this” mentality. Try jumping in and washing the first toilet or washing the first car that comes into a free car wash. We always try to have our youth/college minister and adult leaders showing the students that they are willing to get their hands dirty and do the very thing we are asking the young people to do. Students respond to adult leadership and after 2 or 3 toilets/cars that our adults washed our young people are ready and excited to serve. Jesus showed us this as well. Jesus was willing to get on his hands and knees and wash feet which led the disciples to serve in the same way Jesus was showing them. Jesus did not teach the disciples what to do simply by words and then stand off and watch, but he led them into their leadership roles by willing to get his hands dirty as their leader.
4. Brainstorm with a selected group of young people.
When young people feel that they have played a part in planning something,they will naturally want to participate and lead what they have planned. Try brainstorming creative outreach ideas with 5 or 6 handpicked youth/college students. Not only will this group of students come up with some fantastic outreach ideas, they will show up to the outreaches they have created and be more inclined to lead those very outreaches.
5. Put your young people in leadership roles during church wide outreaches!
Nothing nudges young people to be the leaders God has called them to be more than when they are leading those who are older than them. Try putting your young people in charge of different outreach groups when you have a team
that is splitting up to do various kindness outreaches across your city. You will have to make sure that the ones you select to do this are ready, but if they are it will increase their confidence and leadership abilities more so than anything else. Young people want to know they are trusted by their authority to do important tasks. As far as outreach goes for the young leader, there is nothing better than having the outreach leader say, “I know you can lead, why don’t you lead this team in this area today” Is this not a picture of the same way that God entrusts us to carry out His work here on earth?
In conclusion I’ll leave you with a quote that pretty much says sums it up perfectly
“Dedicate Yourself to coaching youth. Pretty much everything great in history has been pulled off by them” – Steve Sjogren