Just as Moses carefully and considerately embraced Joshua for his future role, so should we when building up our Youth Groups. The efficacy of the next generation of believers is of incredible importance as Christianity is in decline. According to statistics, Christianity has dropped from 73.7% of the total US population in 2016 down to 65% in 2019. Moreover, Atheism has grown from 21% in 2018 to 32% in 2019. Something needs to be done.
Our sole purpose in life is to serve God. Part of that service is to raise up the next generation. We’ve put together a list of a few things that can help you get your church youth to focus on God and make a difference to your local community, and as a byproduct, allow your youth to feel empowered, spiritually mature and on fire for God.
I cannot stress enough the importance of a Youth Outreach program. Your teens are eager to make a difference in the world. When we were kids, we had a burning desire to carve out a path for ourselves. This is a natural desire that God has given every teenager. It is up to us to channel that energy into efforts that produce meaningful results for each individual youth member.
Recently, we sat down with our Youth Group and discussed ways in which the youth can be more closely-knit with each other while having fun and making a difference. A church member suggested an outreach program and the youth absolutely loved the idea of winning over other teenager’s hearts for Jesus.
We bounced the idea around a bit and decided that the following would be ideal in today’s times, considering safety and other social and cultural limitations:
In pairs, send out the youth into a local mall armed with flyers, a positive vibe and invitation cards. The mall is the ultimate place for youth to have fun together, gain a bit of freedom and at the same time, win souls. If you structure this correctly and train them in basic evangelism, they will have an amazingly good time. Prepare them for both the good and the bad. Let them know that not everyone they speak to will be willing to listen to them but that they are just after that one lost sheep. Let them know that if they can reach just one teenager, the entire outreach program will be a success.
Although this may be more mentally and emotionally taxing than the others, it is a vital step for the youth to understand the finiteness of life. Allowing your youth group to pray over people that are sick enables them to develop a sense of compassion for others, an important step in what Jesus said was the second greatest commandment of all. That is, love your neighbour as you love yourself (Mark 12:31)
If you have any drama students or musicians in your youth group, a great way to reach a few lost teenagers would be to do a short skit with a couple of songs at a few of your local schools. Make sure that your short play is aimed towards problems or challenges that teenagers face today such as bullying, drug use, broken homes, etc. After the play, allow the other youth members (those that aren’t drama students or musicians) to hand out flyers at the doors and greet each student individually as they exit the hall.
One of our most successful events in the year is our annual youth camp. During the year, we bring all the youth members together and discuss the plans for the year including the youth camp. This generates great excitement and debate as the youth decide where they would like to have their camp this year. During the meeting, we set financial targets and split the youth into groups who will be responsible for fundraising.
Throughout the year the youth then carries out their fundraisers such as potjie competitions, car wash events, and more. At the end of the year, should they have reached their target, the youth go on a three to five-day camp where no cellphones are allowed. The camp consists of the following:
- Teambuilding games
- Biblical lessons
- Braai / BBQ
- Baptisms / Rededications
- Some downtime
It is important to keep the kids busy on camps as much as possible and to set ground rules at the beginning once you arrive at the camp. Ensure you have capable adults, both male and female to help look after the youth (they do get a bit excited at times!).
One of the key components of running a successful youth group is to have regular social events for your youth. Coming together once a week or twice a month is a great way for the youth to get to know each other, spend time with positive influences (for the most part) and to get a sense of freedom. If you are already running a regular social, consider changing things up a bit. Most churches run their youth social on a Friday night. Why not make it a Sunday afternoon and include things like swimming, having a braai or BBQ or spending time at a local park playing different kinds of sports?
If you have any other ideas on how to rekindle a youth group, please share your ideas below as a comment. I’d love to hear from you!