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For years, I’ve heard pastors, parents, and church goers directly or indirectly talk down forms of youth ministry that don’t include combining parents and students on Sunday morning. The argument is that students need to be around adults for intergenerational relationship development. While this CAN be true, I tend to think it’s a dream we believe but that doesn’t really translate into reality.
I want to take a moment and really get to the core of this thought. Do students actually develop relationships with adults better on Sunday morning during worship services? I’m not against intergenerational ministry, but I think a lot of what people are talking about are good intentions without acutal success. Look at these points with me:
1. Just because students are sitting in “big church” doesn’t mean they are developing relationships. Do your students just sit with other students? When was the last time students sat with older people that weren’t their grandparents?
2. Churches that preach to the 30+ target group can go over students’ heads. Topics matter. Our church had a “target” group. Targets aren’t bad. However, if students are stuck in adult worship and they aren’t a part of the “target,” what does that mean?
3. What about series that have nothing to do with students because of their life stage? You say they’ll learn anyway, but I think (and have seen) they tune out.
So what’s the answer?
Inttentional mentorship. Just becuase we throw adults and students into the same room doesn’t mean they’ll grow together or even at all. The key is intentionality.
What if we:
1. Have adults volunteer in youth ministry. Our ministry typically got a ton of college age/young adult volunteers. That was great and I love those people, but what I really wanted were parents and elders. Imagine a youth volunteer group of seasoned spiritual leaders? Yes please!
2. Ask your eldership or board to stop teaching elderly classes full of spiritually mature Christians. Tell them that it’s the young in Christ (or not even at all) that need their leadership, wisdom, and friendship.
3. What if pastors preached about youth topics during Sunday services a couple times a year?
4. What if students preached a couple times a year on Sunday morning? What if they co-preached with the senior pastor? What if they preached about adult topics instead of youth topics?
5. What if….your thoughts?