The youth are the future of the church – so why does it feel like we’re always stuck sitting on the sidelines?
This is Cate! She’s an amazing person, and she has such a bright future.
My name is Cate Campbell and I am a high school youth in the Methodist Church. Being a part of the youth group has been a wonderful experience, and I’ve always felt cared for by the adults in my church.
My church has a Youth Sunday every once in a while, where the youth run the service: offerings, prayers, songs, and even the sermon. For the most recent Youth Sunday I volunteered to give the sermon. There was something that had been on my heart since going to church camp that summer, so that was what I decided to preach about. It was about how I consider my faith to translate into a call to be an activist in my community. That’s kind of deep stuff… but Youth Sunday only comes every once in a while, so why not preach about such an important topic while I had the chance?
The way I saw it was that I finally had a chance to tell people about a part of my faith that I was beginning to discover meant something really powerful to me. It didn’t even occur to me until that Sunday that maybe they weren’t ready for what I had to say. It’s not that they weren’t ready – it’s just that I don’t think they were expecting the youth to take the sermon seriously. They assumed that we’d preach some generic fluff, and they could “ooooh” and “ahhhh” and be proud of their little babies.
In general, the congregation just didn’t really take it seriously, and can we really blame them? If the youth isn’t regularly involved in church activities in a serious, meaningful way, why would they suddenly expect it from us just because it was youth sunday?
But is that the youth’s fault? No – we have to wait for invitations to be engaged in important church activities, which are few and far between. So, what could we be doing more of?
Firstly, letting youth on leadership teams in church is a great way to let us be involved. And not just allowing it – inviting them. Some kids would be too shy to ask, but if they’re encouraged they might try. Which goes along with the next point: we should encourage them to use their gifts more in church, and be watching for ways that they can be engaged more. It might be a simple, “Hey – you’re pretty good at public speaking! Would you like to give the announcements on Sunday?”
Additionally, letting youth members plan outreach and missions for the church, or what causes churches collect for would be really empowering. I know that I, personally, have had causes I’d wanted to raise money for, and even made a plan for a fundraiser, but then – had no way to go through with it and no where to do it. Encouraging youth to organize these and make a difference would be an incredible opportunity to build leadership skills for a young person, and let them make a difference in their community.
Instead of individual sundays for kids and youth, the church should incorporate them in services and such throughout the year (which, actually, my church does a great job with – go NFUMC!)
Overall, churches need to acknowledge that the youth aren’t just participating to be clapped for – we want a voice and we want a role, and the best churches out there are doing just that.
My name is Cate Campbell. I’m a PK (pastor’s kid) who was born in NJ and moved here to TN 5 years ago. I’m a freshman in high school and participate in theatre and band at my school.
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