2 March 2024

Four vital ways to keep young people in the church

Brain Holden has four ways the church can keep interest with young people. Picture: iStock.

By Brian Holden 

11 September 2022

I recently concluded a trip to Queensland with a group of children, family and youth ministers, visiting a variety of churches to explore different approaches to working with young people. Spending time with clergy leadership and staff at the churches and asking questions was a great learning experience. 

The following is a collation of thoughts from the team as they reflect on what we learnt. 

Investment is key 

“If you prioritize children’s ministry it will grow. Some churches did this by investing in modern buildings, spaces and resources, others had everyone in the leadership read and discuss books like Growing Young to better understand how to grow children and youth ministry, and why it is important.” 

Read more: Here’s how to help your youth worker grow as leaders

“The churches we visited had children and youth as strong part of their culture. It was clear when we talked to the senior leaders that they had taken the time to invest in the ministries to young people.” 

“What stood out for me across all the churches we visited was the core commitment to ministry with young people. This played out in various ways across buildings, promotion, funding, and genuine leadership roles for young people, amongst other things.” 

“I learnt that sustained change in ministry takes time and dedication. The most successful ministries had full time children and youth staff, who had theological training, and some also had teacher training.” 

Children and youth are members of the body of Christ 

“Our children and young people are full members of the church today and involving them in the life of the church helps them not only feel a part of the family but helps them in their own faith formation journey.” 

“The importance of finding or creating meaningful ways that our young people can be serving and contributing towards the life of our churches is key.” “Where young people are serving, they are staying in the church.” 

Read more: Growth Groups drive younger participation

“I think my greatest learning is the role of the leaders in shaping a culture that cultivates a focus on ministry to young people. Where the leaders of churches tell stories about, and celebrate ministry to and with young people, the church as a whole values young people. Not as an added extra, or a burden, but instead as a group vital to the life of the body of Christ.” 

Diversity in Expression 

“I also learnt that ministry can be very diverse depending on the context in which you minister. Being able to identify and meet the needs of the young people in which you minister to, is crucial in helping them to develop their relationship with God.” 

“I learnt that I love learning more about God, and the different ways to minister to young people. It isn’t one size fits all.” 

Community of practice in learning 

“It was a really engaging process of learning – I loved being able to freely ask questions to dig deep into the ‘whys’ of their particular ministry model and see how that was reflected in their practice.” 

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