And Finally: June/July 2017
“It takes a village to raise a child.” This African proverb, which Hillary Clinton famously cited in her 1996 book, has become a turn of phrase used frequently by many of us who are parents and educators. Raising children is complicated, especially when so much vies for their attention. Children and youth need healthy community just as much as they need healthy families. Certainly, Hope Church has some wonderfully gifted leaders, professional and volunteer alike, who guide our youth and children in classes and events, but there are also tangible ways all of us can encourage and care for young people. In fact, studies done by the Fuller Youth Institute demonstrate that churches in which older adults actively engage with youth, are highly likely to have young people who stay with the church when they become adults. Take a look at these 5 ideas I posted here and see if any resonate with you as ways you can invest in our young people.
- Go to their sporting events, plays, and concerts. Having an adult, especially one who is not paid to care for them, show up to an area of passion makes youth feel important and validates that their gifts are not just something fun, but something larger that edifies the church. Want to go to an event? Rick Smith is trying to organize adults in this capacity. Pastor Beth also tries to keep a running tally of who is in what activity, so email her for ideas.
- Provide snacks and food for youth events. High Hopes and Fish Club are always looking for food for our Sunday evening church events. Even more so, we need adults who are willing to host pool parties, cook outs, and progressive dinners. Hospitality is one of the most powerful ways to make anyone feel they belong at church and youth are no exception.
- Speak up for what you believe. Believe it or not, one of the biggest reasons the Pew Research Center cites as why millennials leave the church is that the church doesn’t care for the same areas of passions they do. Our Hope Church youth are passionate people. They organize political rallies, are active in LGBTQ clubs at school, and have deep thoughtful opinions on the political landscape of our country. When you demonstrate your care for the same issues, they see come to see God as the author of these passions and not an obstacle.
- Empower them to be leaders. Are you looking for new ministry ideas for our community? Are you looking for new Sunday School class subjects? Are you even looking for ways to tweak worship on Sunday mornings? Don’t just ask youth to volunteer, ask for their leadership or opinions. Youth are not to be thought of as the church of tomorrow, this is their church today. Programming and ministries should reflect this.
- Volunteer your time. It is a myth that youth leaders need to be young and full of energy. In fact, Fuller Youth Institute shows that one of the keys to youth retention is that adults of all ages, but especially retired adults, invest their time as youth sponsors. Both Fish Club and High Hopes are actively looking for leaders who can meet twice a month on Sundays. But we are also looking for a roster of volunteers who can assist with one off projects like chaperoning retreats and summer trips, driving us to amusement park trips, and helping us with fundraisers.
Do you feel as if you have something to offer not listed here? I welcome your creativity! Please contact me with any gifts or thoughts on how you can become more involved. Would you like to read up more on some of these statistics? The books Growing Young, by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin, and The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian McLaren are excellent resources.