I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned a lot by watching people do what they do. For example, I model a good deal of my approach to dealing with young people based on one high school teacher I had. What magical thing did he do? He asked me how I was doing. Not revolutionary, but I think of him when I make those simple relationship-building things a priority in my ministry.
The reality is that we learn more from what people DO than what people SAY. That is why I try to model another important aspect of youth ministry in all that I do: include young people as leaders in every aspect of ministry. So, I design all of my workshops in a way that can reach both youth and adults.
On paper, this is an easy idea to grasp. But, because our church culture has not operated this way in the past, some people from churches are understandably confused about my insistence on youth leadership. We’re used to adults shuttling off to some room to learn HOW to do youth ministry absent of any young voices in the room.
As some of you know, I regularly lead a workshop in which church leadership teams discern why they do their youth ministry so that they can more effectively carry out their work. It is VERY important to include young people in this particular workshop because the group’s ultimate goal is to design a new program or redesign an existing one so that it is more consistent with the church’s purpose. If young people have nothing to do with this process, then your ministry runs the risk of not being interesting or relevant to them. Plus, you’ve lost the opportunity to have a discussion about the purpose of church and the nature of discipleship with young people and adults in the same room. There’s a great learning moment lost.
So, I encourage you all to think about where young people can be included in the ministries of your church. And, when you sign up for one of my workshops, please know that young people can and SHOULD always be included in them. After all, Jesus didn’t just call disciples who were old or young. He called all kinds of people.