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Realistic Integration of Youth Ministry and the Church

Josh Griffin —  April 10, 2012 — 6 Comments

All this talk about working to integrate our students into church before they have to make a huge leap from youth group to the adult services is helpful. But what isn’t helpful is the voices who simply want you to drop everything you’re currently doing (and is working) and go with some new plan.

Sometimes you have to get rid of something and start over completely—but we’re not convinced this is one of those times. So here are a few suggestions to help you take baby steps toward the integration of youth ministry and the church.

Serve together…mostly
An easy way to get some quick inter-generational ministry happening in your church is to combine some of your serve projects immediately. Consider cancelling the majority of your youth group service projects and join those in place for the church at large. Imagine the conversations that will take place as people serve food, rake leaves, or paint together. Chances are the older people in your congregation will be just as surprised as your teenagers at how fun it was to serve side-by-side!

Worship together…occasionally
Most youth groups have their own worship service or Sunday School happening at the same time the rest of the church is gathered for worship. What if you completely cancelled your youth stuff once a month so the teenagers could attend church with their parents? Sure, some might choose to stay home that weekend, but it’s a fairly simple way to make a statement that says, “25% of the time, our church worships together…and we need the teenagers to be part of the action!”

Mission trips…maybe
One of the big steps we’re considering is to integrate mission trips. Offering a Spring Break trip? What it everyone got involved? Is there a big church-wide trip to South America or Africa? Get behind it and take some students! Each church has their own missions agenda/format, but this is something worthy of consideration.

Overnighters…never
Hey, there are some things adults are happy are totally separate from them. Keep overnighters this way…but be thankful for the adults who do show up, give up sleep, and care for your students.

Where else is there opportunity for easy integration between your youth ministry and the church?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Josh Griffin

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6 responses to Realistic Integration of Youth Ministry and the Church

  1. This post is bang on! I would suggest incorporating students into church social events. For example, often in the summer we do a baptism BBQ where teens and adults can swim, play sports and eat together.

  2. Eugene Tindall April 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Great blog. One of the things we are looking to do this next school year is to pair up our youth Sunday School classes with an adult Sunday School class and have them meet together once a quarter. I think this will build more community in the church.

  3. I have a really big problem with the worship together part. I would say that most youth groups DO worship together with the rest of the church and they rarely have their own service. I think this is a huge misstep in youth ministry circles right now to separate the youth group for worship. This is sending them the wrong message and most certainly alienates the youth. Just worshiping together occasionally will not change this. Worship should be a family time, to worship as a family (most nuclear or church family). You’re not preparing them for when they leave high school and go to college. They will have rarely sat through a adult worship service so when it comes time to find a church home where ever they go to college they won’t know what to look for because they are going to be looking for a Youth Service that does not exist in the majority of churches.

    This may just be in the circles I run in but Youth Ministry needs to be about coming along side kids as they are developing them and walking along side them in their walks with the Lord. Part of that is helping them be part of the church BODY! We don’t have parts of our body that are separate and every once in a while you attach it when it’s most convenient. The Church is a whole body and each part has a part to play. We should be treating the youth like part of the body…not separating them out for the majority of the programs your church has.

  4. Well said RB. It seems as if there is enough separation between age groups to not include the main worship service as a time of being divided instead of united. Now I also realize that some churches don’t have space for everyone, and this is why they have youth services, but that’s probably a minority of cases. (Freely admit this to be an assumption.) We recently did a weekend missions trip to a Indian Reservation with a mixed group (7th grade to 70+) and it went extremely well. Lots of intergenerational connections were built that would never have been during most any other activity since they had to depend on one another to accomplish the mission. As a student ministries pastor I am all for youth/young adult space, but am seeing more and more the need for earlier integration into the whole body of Christ.

  5. Josh, great stuff here mate! Three of these areas need to be worked on in every church and I appreciate your super practical ideas on how to make them work. This summer we are having to renovate our student ministry center which will mean closing down Sunday mornings for 6-8 weeks. Some parents and students are having a huge problem with it, but we are working hard to help them see the importance of worshipping together.

    Thanks again for this post. Much to consider!

    Phil <

  6. Thanks, Phil! Love the comments everyone … excited about what is being said here! JG

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