Archive for May 3rd, 2008

Connected Generations

Over the past months and years there have been ongoing conversations about how to keep the younger generations connected with the church body after high school graduation takes place.  It seems there is a long standing tradition (or pattern) of high schoolers graduating out of youth groups only to feel there is no place for them in the church.

While I find some merit in the theory – I believe it is because we have set them up to feel this way.  Far too many churches put a large emphasis on youth group involvement and attendance at youth activities only to stop extending these invitations to them after graduation.  Many students head off to college or university and long for the deep connections that they had with their youth leaders and peers.  When they finish up 2nd semester they return to their home church only to find the welcome mat removed for them.

There does come a time when the topics/material/curriculum is no longer age-appropriate for college students and they themselves feel out of place.  Why can’t we change this?  Why not create an atmosphere where all people from all generations are welcome at all times?  This idea has been stirring around in my mind for some time now and after our Spring Clean Up Day at the church I realized what this looks like.  

If we were more intentional in creating environments where people of all generations could serve side by side new relationships could be established between generations.  Young people deeply desire to be connected with the older generations around them.  In these relationships a new appreciation for each other develops.  Generations begin to understand each other.  While the music may still seem too loud for one generation and the clothing styles may seem to prudish for another there is a common ground that is established.  

One thing that we have been trying to do more and more of at Impact (our student ministry) is to get the youth serving in ministries within the church.  Not that we want to “pimp” the youth, but we understand that the more opportunities for youth to serve in the general church body the more chances that they take ownership of the church as a whole.  It becomes their church and not just mine.  When these opportunities for serving overlap into the world of Sunday services there are even greater opportunities for young people to connect with older people.  It brings me great joy to see youth from Impact on the platform leading worship with adults or sitting behind the sound board pushing buttons.

I put my money where my mouth is on this one and encourage my oldest daughter to serve where she feels most comfortable.  Every other week you can find my 8 year old daughter working the cash register at the cafe.  I want her to know that GCC is her church, not just the place that her Daddy is a pastor at.  It excites me to see adults connect with her and begin to feel the nudge to serve because of her example.  I see 1 Timothy 4:12 come to life in her.

If we strive to connect youth to the whole of the church and not create a “youth ministry island” unto itself we will see young people grow in the church and stay connected for the long haul – and isn’t that what we want to see happen?