“The only true measure of success in a youth ministry program is the ability and willingness of a congregation to fully assimilate growing adolescents into the adult fellowship”. – Chap Clark
This is the old “one-eared Mickey Mouse”, which is a classic model used to show youth ministry (the one ear) and the church (Mickey’s face) and the lack of integrating youth into the larger body.
We often hear that we need to integrate or we promise our pastor that we’ll try, but how?
Here are a few ways to encourage integration:
1. Identify youth friendly adults in existing groups who help serve in worship like musicians, ushers, sound, greeters etc. Give them a few names of students who they can personally invite to join them. (This works, but when you ask youth to serve you are asking youth to serve! Don’t be shocked when a teenager acts like a teenager.)
2. Pull the Plug on Youth Sunday! O yes I did! Take your pick, a once a year service where we lasso students to make a big splash in front of congregation who are a bit nervous anyway or seeing students each Sunday in every aspect of the service? I’ll go with B.
3. Tell stories. If your church allows adults to share faith stories or highlight ministries, then a student should be asked to do the same. I’ve been deeply moved to hear youth describe a mission trip or service day where the served with and got to know an older person in the church. This is a great visual of integration for the church family.
The Caveat: I don’t know many youth or adults who like to go places where they don’t feel like they are wanted. We as adults must invite them, make a space for them and allow them to participate, if we don’t, Big Church will become Old Church and then ……
What does it look like for mature believers to make room and serve maturing believers?