.::Passing the Baton

In Scarsdale, NY a school administrative team handed over the responsibility to ensure that students arrived at prom safe and sober.  This approach seemed successful and the senior class president noted, “‘For [students] to take the reins [giving them] adult responsibility.’  When adults show youth they care about their ideas and provide them with opportunities to voice them, it sends a powerful message that youth are valued.”*

So true.

When I think of the traditional, One-Eared Mickey Mouse approach to youth ministry, I fear that we have squelched the ever important voice of teens and sent the message to them that says, “Your ideas and your input are not that important.”  In what arenas in our faith communities does the WHOLE CHURCH have the opportunity for students to have responsibility, provide input into programming, share their ideas on faith, give feedback, or to simply have their voices heard?  Most of what I have seen have delegated that kind of input, responsibility and feedback solely to the youth ministry.  Based on who I see utilized in our corporate assemblies and committees, I fear we have sent a message that says, “We’ll listen to you once you are married, have a job and have a child.”

This is good news!  Students WANT responsibility!  They WANT their voices heard!  They WANT to participate!  They know that faith and God are vital and important and sacred and they want to contribute to the work of the Kingdom of God!  They have heard and seen what God can do and want to share in that.

How might we pass the baton of responsibility over to our teens?  What might be some baby steps that we take to train, equip and then UTILIZE teens in the larger conversation of faith in our churches?

Here are a few ideas to get the discussion kickstarted:

  • Have students contribute to all aspects of worship from worship team to reading scripture to leading communion thoughts. (Not every time, and not just on “youth sunday” but regularly to develop a culture that students are a part of THIS body and THE Body of Christ).
  • Have students part of any or all committees as appropriate.  Let them have a voice in some of the important church decisions that are made.  You never know, students may provide insight or a perspective on an issue, a building plan, a mission committee, etc. that no one else can provide.
  • Release students to lead and serve.  I used to fight against students being a part of other ministries in church like Children’s Ministry, Worship Team, etc. because I was selfish and wanted them in MY ministry.  I realized that I had to release them to let God work through them in the areas where they were being called.  I had to really let go and let other ministreis benefit and learn from them.
  • Preach.   What if we gave students who have a word or something insightful to share a brief sermonette as part of worship?  You don’t have to give up the entire sermon over to a teen, just 2-3 minutes from them might be the most powerful meesage some hear that day.
  • Testimony.  One of the best things we would do when we had “Youth Sunday” was to let students share what God had been doing in their lives.  This proved to be extremely powerful and encouraging to the whole congregation.  Sooooo . . . Why not do this regularly as part of worship where the congregation hears a brief testimony from youth, senior saints, young marrieds, old singles, etc
Just remember, to pass a baton . . . we need to do two things:  
1. Hand them a Baton
2. We need to let go of it.  
* Nichols, Sharon Lynn., and Thomas L. Good. “9 A Small-Wins Approach.” America’s Teenagers–myths and Realities: Media Images, Schooling, and the Social Costs of Careless Indifference. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. 268.

One Response to “.::Passing the Baton”

  1. Robbie Mackenzie Says:

    Have students part of any or all committees as appropriate. I love that statement. Empowering students means letting them have decision-making power in some of the major decisions of a youth group. Great stuff Walter.

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