How old are the best youth leaders? How old are the best small group leaders for young adults? When are people too old to be involved in ministry with young people?
These questions, and others like them, are posed not simply by youth and young adults pastors but by people throughout the life of the church – teenagers, young adults, married couples, parents with small children, middle-aged men and women, even retirees. No matter your age, I guarantee you’ve either voiced this question or considered it internally.
The problem I think we have in using age as a determining factor for people to be involved in ministry with youth and young adults for at least three-fold:
- It takes the focus off God and places it on ourselves
- It reduces the potential number of people who can be involved in the ministry
- It fails to take seriously Bible’s teaching on the church as the family of God
In a recent study of effective youth ministries, one of the key findings was that “…in congregations of every size… it is the culture of the whole church that is most influential in nurturing youth of vital Christian faith.” (Martinson, et al, The Spirit and Culture of Youth Ministry, 50)
When we talk about being people empowering in youth and young adult ministry we need leaders, carers, mentors, and teachers from a range of different ages and life stages. We need teenagers serving younger teenagers. We need young adults serving their peers as well as those in our youth ministries. We need single adults, married couples, parents with children across the age range, we need fulltime workers, part-time workers, stay home parents, and the unemployed. We need grandparents. Can I say that again, we need grandparents.
We need God’s people to take hold of the opportunity God has provided them to invest in our teenagers and young adults. I firmly believe that the healthiest youth and young adult ministries across our movements are those who have the investment not simply of those aged under 30.
I know that all church contexts are different but here are 10 ways you can empower the youth and young adults across our movement of churches:
- Pray for the youth and young adults in your church (and across our movement of churches)
- Pray for the youth and young adults pastors coordinators, workers and leaders in your church
- Speak with those involved in the youth and young adult ministry in your church about how you can be supporting them in the coming weeks
- Become a small group leader – or even a co-facilitator
- Offer to mentor one of the youth and adults in your church
- Write a letter of encouragement to the youth or young adult pastor and their leadership team
- Invite those in leadership of the young people in your church over for a meal
- Offer a specific word of praise to a teenager who you see in your church services
- Find an opportunity to share God’s work in your life with the young people in your church
- Buy the youth or young adult pastor a gift to say thank you for their ministry.
You’re never too old to be involved in youth or young adult ministry – sometimes you just need to think creatively about what it can look like given your specific life circumstances. It might not be a weekly commitment, but never discount how God wants to use you in the their lives of young people.