This is part one of a five part series entitled What Young People Need.
While I am not a know-it-all when it comes to young people--both teens and millennials—I am passionate about the next generation being reached in the church. As a youth worker and a millennial myself I believe I have seen trends and markers of change and growth not only in my church, but in churches around me that bring young people to your congregation. We, as members of the Church (many of you reading are parents and employees of churches) have to embrace young people and run with them.
Teens and millennials are all facing the reality that their faith is no longer forced. I don’t mean that in a harsh way, but up through their Junior High years, faith is primarily based on their parents. Suddenly there is a shift… they sleep in and their parents aren’t waking them up. They get hungry and their parents aren’t cooking for them. They aren’t forced, like they once were, to go to church or talk about Jesus. We have to ask ourselves: what ultimately will get them to come to church and not only that, but what will keep them coming back?
Young people need a church they are proud of.
A church they want to brag about and a place they want to bring their friends.
And what makes a church that young people are proud of? A church that sees young people not as a problem in the world rather a solution to the problems in the world. It has to be a church that elevates young people, and not belittle them. It has to be a church that sees young people not as future leaders of tomorrow, but current leaders of today. When young people have a voice, they’ll be proud of their church. When they have a seat, they’ll be proud of their church. When they’re believed in, they’ll be proud of their church. When the church cares about the things they care about, they’ll be proud of their church.
This, for some, is an entire shift in thought, in program, and in playbook. There is a fine-line between mentoring and teaching young people vs. running next to them as co-leaders and friends. Often times young people are invited into meetings, programming, and given opportunities as leadership tact rather than a belief in ideology. Jesus models his belief in young people first through friendship with them in John 15:14 (text below), then secondly leadership above them in John 15:15. Notice the order: friendship then leadership. Or maybe one could say leadership through friendship. When was the last time you talked to a young person about what they cared about instead of insisting they should care about the things you do? When was the last time you invited them into a meeting not to learn, rather to offer their opinion? When was the last time you had a young person pray over the church in service instead of an elder? When was the last time you befriended someone younger than you? When was the last time you told a story of a young person in your sermon?
Let's be a church that runs with young people. Let’s create churches that young people are proud of.
Til’ Next Time
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.. -John 15:13-15 CSB
Christian Standard Bible (CSB) The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.