I guess you can come to one conclusion; thus far, I am a youth worker at heart. We like these wonderful tasting stuff that gives us enough energy to keep moving at the speed of youthfulness. As I put together the succulent taste of apple pie and ice cream, I think there are some things we can say about youth ministry in churches.
Have you ever wondered why young people stay outside when church programs are going on? Have you ever wondered why you can’t get them to participate in their own programs? Have you ever wondered what it takes to keep them interested? Well I would attempt to answer these by using the words of a leader who spoke to a church gathering and said, “If we give young people a PIECE OF THE PIE FIRST,
THEN WE WILL HAVE THEM INTERESTED IN STAYING FOR DINNER!” I believe he must have been talking to me…! I love to eat my dessert before dinner. I know I am not the only one that does it backwards. C’mon confess … it is good for the soul. I think he is right! As I interpret his words to mean; we must give young people some things they enjoy doing, and it will be easier to get them involved in church life. And yes, some of the sermons we ask, and sometimes demand them to endure, would be more palatable. So how do we give them a piece of the pie first? Here is my humble submission based on my observation.
- We must include them! This sounds cliché but it is as basic to young adult ministry as it gets. We have to let them know that they belong and do so in meaningful ways. We have to give them a part to play or even the whole play, and they will want to stay inside because they have something to do. In so doing we will have them eat the pie, and maybe they will eat the spinach that they don’t like so much…I think you get the message!
- We must give them the piece they like…I love the crust, someone else may like the middle while others may like the apples only, and still yet some may just like the ice-cream with no pie. We must serve them the part they like. Now I must sound a word of caution here. We can’t give them only what they like, because we know they may only eat the pie and never get to the vegetables. However they must have a balance diet and methinks some of that should be what they like best.
- We must value their pie flavors…Many times they abhor coming to long services, seeing the same people all the time doing the same things, there must be a venturing out of the box to kind of taste what they like (within reasonable limits of course) and incorporate them into the church’s program and see them stay for all of the program. They will be far more tolerant of church programming if they have an input into it, or they have an opportunity to utilize their own skills within the services.
- We have to give them the pie over and over…This is not to be some act to appease them for a little while or silence them for a season. This must be a staple part of the experience. The young people must have meaningful parts to play in all services. There are many young people who feel as though church life is for adults and they have a slot here and there when they fill in. If that is so you will find many of them will not stay for dinner. Your “pieology” is wrong! It must be a way of life for the church to include them in every phase of its existence continually.
At MYGEN Church we will incorporate all these thoughts into the lifeblood of our church! We have fundamentally given the planning, and implementation of our church’s program to young adults. They, driven by the Holy Spirit are leading out in every ministry of our church! This is our version of apple pie and pecan praline ice cream, in ministry! We’re serving some up to see what it does to the young people and the overall church programming. I believe it is going to be real sweet! I can’t wait to eat my piece of pie and ice cream with them. I hope you feel the same way too! Come join us, and get your piece of the pie!