What does an integrated youth ministry look like? It’s one of the things we advocate at youTheology Institute. Sometimes we use the term “embedded in the local congregation.” It is one of the pillars of an extraordinary youth ministry.
The funny thing is, though, I had not though about it for a while. Why? I couldn’t say. However, that changed this morning.
I worshiped at a congregation that was preparing for their annual pumpkin patch fundraiser. The youth leader was excited about. That’s to be expected, though it’s not a given. Her enthusiasm was contagious.
Even more outstanding was the enthusiasm of the older members. It was evident that this activity was a part of the church’s life. I heard some of them talking about it. In addition, during the service one young lady shared form her spiritual journey, underscoring the importance of the event. The youth leader also had a spot during the service during which she reminded people of what was at hand and encourage everyone to volunteer.
And so it was, that once again I was thinking of what an integrated youth ministry in the life of the church is like. Here are three signs that show a youth ministry is integrated.
Integrated and claimed
The youth worker sees herself or himself as part of the congregation. They show up even when the youth are not involved. They are visible. The members of the congregation know them. In addition, the rest of the leadership honors the role the youth worker plays. The congregation claims the youth worker as one of them.
An integrated youth ministry communicates
The youth leader communicates with the other leaders of the church. They know what is happening. As much as possible they are a part of the decision-making process. In addition, the congregation is also kept up to date. This is so whether or not they have children and/or grandchildren youth ministry age. This communication may take several forms—announcements during worship, in the bulletin, informal conversations, visits to Sunday School classes, etc. All ways of communication are explored for what is the most effective. Communication is key.
Integrated youth leads to integrated youth ministry
The congregation recognizes and claims their youth. Members encourage the young people, are patient with them, and make allowances for natural weaknesses. They do not expect perfection. In turn, the young people feel comfortable and at home. They see the particular congregation as a place that nurtures them. As they receive God’s love through the congregation they reciprocate. They also spread this love outside of the church. In addition, they are not afraid to experiment and try new things. In other words, the stage is set for their growth in Christ.
What does an integrated youth ministry in a local congregation look like? Connect the dots of these 3 signs. You’ll get the picture.
Tell me: Can you think of any other sign of an integrated youth ministry?