From time to time youth ministers send me their job descriptions and one thing that sticks out to me every time is their responsibility to Incorporate youth more into the life of the parish.
It’s a phrase we’ve all heard. It’s something we get the gist of, it’s just not always clear what that should look like. If you want teenagers more active on the weekend then you need to develop an:
APPRENTICESHIP FOR MINISTRY
Teenagers can be involved in a variety of ways at your church, but to simply plug them in and say, “Have fun with it!” will overwhelm them. An apprenticeship model:
Sets them up for success.
Connects them with adults they can look up to.
Extends your capacity to grow deeper disciples.
To set up the best apprenticeship process possible you need to:
IDENTIFY KEY AREAS OF SERVING
There are going to be areas that require talent (i.e. choir/band, lecturing) and then somewhere the trait can simply be taught. You need to categorize the different areas and determine:
- If teens can simply enroll and go to a training.
- Whether you need tryouts or auditions.
- Requirements and expectations for serving in that ministry.
Know exactly where you want the next generation to serve so that you can pour your energy and resources in those areas.
STAFF IT WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
You don’t need your stereotypical youth ministry volunteer to help you with an apprenticeship. You need people who won’t discriminate because of age and see the value of investing in someone younger than them.
Find your point people, create a plan and a system where you can communicate about the needs and expectations required for that ministry. When you have the right people ready for the next generation to serve with them you’ve set everyone up for success.
GET RID OF THE REQUIREMENT THAT COMES WITH SERVING
Most times teenagers are seeking out service opportunities to fulfill some requirement from school or even the church. Eliminate anything that communicates, “You have to do this.”
You might lose teens because they are looking for service hour opportunities, but you’ll create a healthier culture which will be more attractive in the long run.
MAKE ALL YOUR EXPECTATIONS CLEAR
Treat the next generation like you would other adults and you’ll get their best. Make sure they understand that they need to:
- Show up at a certain time.
- Dress appropriately (especially if there is a dress code).
- Behave in a certain manner.
Expect the most out of them and don’t lower your standards because they are young. They’ll rise to the occasion.
MAKE EVERY MOMENT TEACHABLE
Volunteering is an opportunity to get something done. Apprenticeships are an opportunity for people to learn and grow. Make sure you aren’t just giving teenagers tasks but showing them the purpose and value behind what they do. That could mean explaining why:
- The tables need to be set up a certain way to create an irresistible environment.
- Showing up on time allows the team to be set up for success.
- Smiling at those they serve creates a welcoming experience.
Creating these teachable moments will not only help them see the purpose but it will also build a relationship between the adult and teenager.
BUILD UP THE COMMUNITY
All of your volunteers should feel connected in a greater community, but this is especially important for teens. Make sure that you build a team that is there to give them:
- Additional training so that they can sharpen their skills.
- Support when they have a rough time or experience.
- Opportunities (i.e. take them to a leadership conference) where they can grow.
Keep them connected so that they see that they are a part of something bigger and they’ll be more motivated to serve.
An apprenticeship model will not only get more teens involved but get more adults involved with teenagers. The value of your ministry will increase because people will see that investing in the next generation is not only an investment in the future but the present as well.
Question: How are you plugging teenagers into ministry at your church? You can leave a comment by clicking here.