Children and youth are our future. I have watched countless kids transition from toddler to elementary school, to high school, and beyond.
Many of these young adults now have families of their own and are leaders in their sphere of influence.
These kids were shaped by inspiring children’s ministry and Church youth programs.
Why are youth programs in a church so important?
Churches develop youth programs for a couple of reasons.
The first is to provide engaging ministry for teenagers.
The second is to provide a place for kids to hang out with other teenagers who share the same values and interests.
When done well, an effective youth program not only attracts young people but it prepares these teens for life’s challenges, develops a heart to serve others, and transitions them into tithing church members.
Effective youth programs have several things in common.
7 Things Effective Youth Programs Have in Common
1. Great Leadership
Effective youth programs are always the result of great leadership. Leaders inspire and motivate these impressionable kids to maintain Christian values in a world that is often dark and confusing.
Leaders don’t happen by accident. Invest the time and resources to identify, develop and train leadership for your youth program.
Do this by finding someone with the passion for youth, the drive to effectively influence, and the commitment to meet the challenges of the role.
For instance, youth leadership is much more than leading kids. There are logistical, spiritual, and relational challenges that come with the job. Make sure your leaders are prepared for all aspects of this important role.
Provide a mentor for this person to help them navigate the unique responsibilities that come with overseeing teenagers.
Teenagers need help translating the world on a practical level.
New technologies and social media have changed the world. There are many great things that come with new technologies.
However, there are times when these tools are used to harm others. These inappropriate uses can be devasting for kids.
We have all read the stories of kids getting bullied on social platforms and sadly take permanent actions on these temporary issues.
An effective youth program will help them filter life through biblical principles. This includes biblical teaching that clarifies the boundaries for behavior and lifestyle.
An inviting youth program creates an atmosphere that teens enjoy.
This includes vibrant music, an inviting facility, and furnishings that cater to the teenage generation.
Use the teens to help create an environment that they will want to invite friends to visit.
For instance, get your youth involved in picking out paint colors, furnishings, decor for a comfortable youth space.
Get these kids involved in helping to influence the weekly program by doing research on topics and selecting worship music.
4. Provide Outreach Opportunities
Effective youth programs create opportunities for teens to see the world outside of their limited sphere.
Create outreach programs that expose teens to the needs of others.
Mission trips are particularly effective when they provide the youth with a chance to engage with people of other cultures and those who are less fortunate.
While international missions are a great way for teens to see the world, every community has mission opportunities.
Explore the underprivileged areas in your city and create programs that encourage teens to give back in tangible ways.
5. Teens Experience God
A youth program is only as successful as its ability to help these young people experience God on a personal level.
Purpose – is what kids need to survive their teenage years.
When kids get the revelation that they can have a personal relationship with God it gives them a purpose by recognizing that their existence is part of a bigger plan.
This recognition then propels them in all areas of life.
Experiencing God is the most important aspect of a youth program.
6. Fellowship With Other Teens
Teenagers long to be together. An effective youth program provides a safe place where kids can hang out and interact with kids their own age.
This includes providing an environment where they can experience life together – both the highs and lows.
Kids use these friendships to validate that they are not alone in their challenges and that there are other kids who care.
Develop small groups and facilitate conversations for teens to express feelings and draw off of each other’s experiences.
7. Serve Others
The bible is very clear about the importance of serving others.
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
Kids need to learn that it is not all about them. Youth programs should provide opportunities to serve.
Whether that is serving in children’s church, supporting the youth program, or participating in helping the elderly – kids need an avenue to serve others.
For instance, create a ministry for the elderly in your church and use the youth to spend a day cleaning, landscaping, or painting for an older person in your congregation.
Why are youth programs so important?
Healthy churches recognize the importance of providing a dynamic youth program.
They recognize that these kids are our future and their responsibility to influence their spiritual development. These churches recognize the promises that come with the scripture:
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Take the time to identify great leaders and create a program that will provide an opportunity for your youth to fellowship, grow in their faith, and serve others!
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