10 Ways to Encourage the Young People in Your ChurchOctober 18, 2013
If we are going to make an impact in the lives of young people, we must do it quickly, emphatically, and intentionally –they grow up pretty fast, and if you don’t influence their faith, heart, and mind at a tender age, it is certain, someone else will. In the five years I have been at Cross Roads, I have seen many of our youth grow and mature into fine young Christians. When you consider the context of their daily lives, such spiritual growth is a praise-worthy accomplishment.
Their world is vastly different than the world of their parents. The culture at large fights for their attention and affection. They are exposed and connected, much sooner, to pervasive and wicked worldviews. They are inundated with relative thinking and humanistic mindsets. They are pressured to adopt a “coexist” philosophy of life, which ironically promotes toleration for all views except Christianity. If the church fails to make investments into the youth department, the church will eventually cease to exist. I, for one, do not believe they are the “church of tomorrow,” I believe they are a vital and necessary part of today’s church.
So how do we encourage them? How do we let them know that we care? How do we help them embrace the faith of the Bible?
1. Keep preaching the Gospel. The gospel is the only message in history that is for all people, at all times, in all places. Radical transformation in this generation can be a reality when the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented clearly and scripturally. Yes, teenagers need the Gospel.
2. Stay in touch with them, the way they stay in touch. If we are going to make a connection with young people, we must connect with them through new mediums. If you are not in tune with social media, get out of your comfort zone and get connected with the young people of your church. It’s not only a good way to communicate, but your presence may very well be the accountability system they need.
3. Do something special for them on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but do something nice for a young person. Buy them a small gift. Send them a funny card. Let them know you care, and that you think of them often.
4. Keep them involved in the worship experience of the church. One of the tragic mistakes we make in the modern church is to isolate every group from one another in worship. I am not against the nursery, children’s church, or Wednesday night programs; but if we are not careful, we may very well be excluding our children from the presence and move of God. Keep them involved. Let them sing in the choir, call on them to pray, let them usher. Have them serve in various capacities of the church.
5. Place expectations upon their lives. When young people have no order or expectations, they run wild. Down inside, they want some rules and regulations. They may not appreciate it now, but with consistency and compassion, they will eventually learn that those expectations were in place because of love and grace.
6. Model Christ-likeness before them. It doesn’t matter how many sermons you preach, how many rules you give, how much money you throw at them; if they do not see Christ in your life, you will have very little influence upon them. Grow in grace yourself, and allow your growth to spill over into their lives.
7. Volunteer your time for their events. Give your time to their cause. Sponsor a child for summer camp. Serve as a chaperone at the next outing. Become a presence in their activities, not just an “old-person” on a pew.
8. Compliment their efforts. I don’t care who you are, we all enjoy compliments. Young people especially need to know they are accepted. We are generally pretty good at pointing out their flaws; but on occasion, accentuate and applaud their positive attributes.
9. Share your own experiences with them. Be real and be honest. Share with them your life, your testimony, your trials, and your victories. They need hope; hope of growing up and surviving in this difficult world.
10. Call their name daily unto the Lord. Above and beyond all other things, prayer is the key to influence. Keep their name on a list. Call it out frequently, passionately, and specifically.