The Middle Years Ministry

Formerly "The JH Uth Guy", THE MIDDLE YEARS MINISTRY is a Site Dedicated to Providing Resources, Ideas, and Help to Pastors, Leader, Directors, Teachers, Mentors and Anyone Else Working in
the
Pivotal and Important 5th-9th Grade Years. The "Middle Years" are not children's ministry, not high school ministry, and are more than just Middle School. It is a unique and specialized ministry.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Is “Inter-Generational Youth Ministry” an Oxymoron?

We have all heard about “oxymoron’s”, right? It’s a figure of speech where contradictory terms appear together like...
Accurate estimate
- Act naturally
- Adult children
- Casual dress
- Sanitary landfill
- Airline food

Someone asked me a few months ago if the title of my book, Inter-Generational Youth Ministry: Why a Balanced View of Connecting the Generations is Essential for The Church, is an oxymoron? While I get what they are saying, I really don’t believe that there should be a conflict there. I believe in youth ministry and I have been actively involved in it in some form or another for more than 40 years. But, I have a growing conviction that if churches totally separate their teenagers from the overall life of the church, they are making a big mistake.
Older adults need the life and energy of youth – and young people (especially during the "MIDDLE YEARS")  need the wisdom and maturity of older adults. 
The church was designed by God to be inter-generational and the generations need each other. I am convinced that today’s churches can and should balance their programming and methods so that peer ministry can exist and thrive alongside of inter-generational ministry.

Our students need Godly adults to be actively involved in their lives. I believe that it is essential for the spiritual development of youth that older, Godly adults take the initiative to build growing relationships with them.

Here are some suggestions on how to implement an inter-generational youth ministry

1. Recruit a team of Godly, caring adults to serve as lay youth workers in your church.

With or without a paid youth pastor, your church needs a team of Godly and caring adults to work with teenagers. Please notice the plurality of my terms. I believe in team ministry - different models who can reach and minister different teens. The main responsibility of any lay youth worker must be to build relationships with teens. That really is the key. Opportunities to teach and disciple will grow out of positive relationships.

Small group leaders are another level of adult interaction with students. Be sure to find adults who have the ability to guide discussions around the Scriptures and who can think on their feet in case the teens ask difficult questions. I think it’s also wise to look for small group leaders who are able and willing to interact with the students in occasions outside of small group. (Some churches are organizing their entire small group ministry around inter-generational connections; and of course, this would add an interesting dynamic to this type of ministry structure.)

2. Utilize church leaders, parents of teenagers, and other significant adults to serve in your youth group.

Another way to build adults into the lives of the young people in your church is to use significant adults in various ways within the fabric of your existing youth ministry. Here are some practical ideas to consider:
  • Ask some parents of teenagers or other adults to accompany your group on youth events or trips.
  • Ask church leaders to speak, teach, or otherwise participate in youth group meetings.
  •  Ask the lead pastor or other pastoral staff members to teach on a specific topic in youth group.
  • Ask select, Godly adults who have unique life experiences to minister to students who are facing some of the same experiences.
  •  Give older, Godly adults the opportunity to share their story (or their testimony) with teenagers.

3. Ask Godly parents of teenagers to build healthy, growing relationships with their kids’ friends.

Parents of kids in your church can be the ideal people to minister to their kids’ friends – especially if you have young people involved in your ministry who are from dysfunctional home situations. When our own children were teenagers we often encouraged them to invite their friends over to our house. This provided a safe atmosphere for our kids and gave us the opportunity to get to know their friends. It might be a good idea to be intentional about making this kind of thing happen with Godly parents of teens in your church.

4. Motivate your church’s senior citizens to pray specifically and intentionally for young people – by name!

I am excited about a growing trend around the country to intentionally involve senior citizens in specific ways with teenagers and young adults. This absolutely must start with prayer. Do whatever you can to motivate your church’s oldest adults to pray specifically, by name for the young people. This simple practice will put a growing burden on their hearts for the students - and honestly, it has the potential to revolutionize your church and shatter its’ generation gap!

Friends, I am convinced that by implementing some of the ideas listed above your church can develop a truly inter-generational youth ministry. It is not an oxymoron! Blessings.

Mel Walker has been actively involved in youth ministry for more than 40 years. He is the co-founder and president of Vision For Youth. A former youth pastor, youth editor and college professor, Mel is the author of 7 books. Most recently Inter-Generational Youth Ministry: Why a Balanced View of Connecting the Generations is Essential for The Church.

You can reach via email at: mel@visionforyouth.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment