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Youth church dropouts: What can we do?

Have you ever handed your phone to one of your children to get their help doing something? Youth absorb technical information like sponges. They watch a few hours of online tutorials and in no time are trying things out themselves. While it may seem their technical skills are spent watching videos or playing games, youth can contribute a lot to ministry when enabled and encouraged to do so. Here are a few ideas for giving your young people opportunities to serve in ministry.

Technical support

Technical support teams have become common in churches in America. They are tasked with running the sound system, providing video services, running presentation software, and updating ministry websites. While your ministry may not have a team dedicated to technology, your youth may be key to developing one. By including youth in the work of the church, new areas of outreach can be explored as your team grows in skills and matures. If you already have some technical support, consider training some youth as backup for unexpected occasions. When given direction and encouragement, teens can be just as valuable as adults on technical support teams.

Ministry promotion

Weekly services, VBS (vacation bible schools), baptisms, and community outreaches are just a few opportunities where youth can help you promote a ministry and spread the gospel message. Part of being a good promoter of the ministry is sharing regularly what God is doing. The more hands you have doing this, the further the gospel seeds can be sown. Many young people already spend time videoing and editing themselves doing various activities. They have the skills, and many have time.

Before sending your youth out to begin filming or blogging online, take time to share the vision of the ministry with them. What do you hope to achieve? How will it point people to the gospel? How do you plan to share it with others? When they catch the vision and get involved, you have succeeded in directing their skills toward eternal purposes. When the event is over and you come together to edit the film or share the story, talk about how things went and how they saw the gospel at work. These times spent working together can be just as effective for discipleship as Bible studies and youth events.

Testimonies and theology

Who is God? How has he changed you? What does it mean to follow Jesus? What does it mean to be saved? What better way to reach new youth than to record the testimonies of those who are already involved in your church. Youth understand and listen to each other because they see themselves on the same level. They are often bolder in sharing their faith and less afraid of being in front of people than seasoned believers. Begin teaching your young people how to share a three-minute testimony and record it to share online. Not only are you taking time to listen to them, but you can also use the opportunity to help them understand the depths of the gospel. Though they may not realize it, you are teaching them solid theology. After recording testimonies with them, take it to the next level and film them answering theological questions you have worked on with them. This is a great way to share why Jesus came and what we believe as his followers. Boldness is contagious. Don’t be afraid to tap into your youth to spread the zeal to other parts of the body of Christ.

Youth matter

Every year, 70 to 75% of Americans drop out of church after graduating from high school.1 Many say they didn’t feel a part of church or that church felt irrelevant. Youth are the next generation, and we as the church must diligently pour the truths of the gospel into them. Getting your youth involved, entrusting them with responsibilities, and teaching them the depths of the gospel are a few things we can do to solidify their faith. If you are looking for ways to engage your youth, consider how their technical skills may not only help your ministry, but also be a stepping stone into their lives for strengthening their faith.

1. Frank Turek, “Youth Exodus Problem” CrossExamined.org (accessed 25 Aug 2018) https://crossexamined.org/youth-exodus-problem/

Jared Jones lives and works in Takasaki, Gunma. He’s a church planter for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He’s been in Japan since 2009 with his family. He and his wife have five children.

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