Prioritise young people (and families) everywhere: instead of giving lip service to how much young people matter, look for creative ways to tangibly support, resource, and involve them in all facets of your congregation.
Part 6 of 7 Series on ‘Growing the Church Young‘
“Teenagers know they are important because they are involved in ministry. They are treated as full-fledged members of the church, not just kids to be entertained.” – Angela, church leader (p 196).
“How much would you and your church give up to reach young people?” (p196)
This is a confronting question. Many people would answer ‘anything’. They see their church declining, and their children and grand-children disengaging. But when push comes to shove, they are hesitant to ‘give up’ what they consider are the essentials to ‘genuine church’.
What do you think are the essentials to ‘genuine church’? Why are these essential for you?
Earlier, it was mentioned that everything is about Jesus, and that young people wanted to connect with others that take Jesus seriously. But sometimes we confuse Jesus with cultural identity, with congregational traditions, expectations and even language.
Growing Young discovered that three commitments: empathising, warmth and prioritisation, while distinct, influence and reinforce one another.
“Empathising with today’s young people means we listen for and seek to understand their developmental journey toward identity, belonging, and purpose.
Warmth is the way we surround them with supportive, accepting, and authentic community.
Prioritisation of young people everywhere represents our tangible, institutional commitment to allocate resources and attention – not only for specific youth and young adult programing but also across the life of the congregation” (p 201).
Prioritisation is about more than focussing everything around the young person. It is about all people participating with and walking alongside each other. And it is about more than asking young people about what they want or what they can do. This language turns people into objects to ingratiate or use, rather than into people who are uniquely created in the image of God.
Finally, prioritisation does not simply happen. It requires a purposeful plan that helps to shift the congregational culture to be inclusive of all.
To think about and discuss
- Reflect on the quote by Angela. What stands out for you?
- What are you currently doing to prioritise young people everywhere in your congregation?
- What evidence do you see that suggests that your church culture prioritises young people?
- If you could change one thing which would prioritise young people, what would that one thing be?