Teenagers Looking for Ministry?

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the front row of a church waiting to speak, and after hearing a few announcements about the numerous ministries the church was actively doing in the community I turned to the pastor sitting next to me and said, “Wow, this church is really making a ‘hands-on’ impact in the community.”

The pastor pointed up on stage and said, “See that bass player? He’s a doctor and has three residents. Every month he takes his residents with him and they go to a homeless area of our city and just start helping people one at a time. No facility, no clinic… he just walks up to a homeless person, introduces himself as a doctor who would like to help and then asks if he can check their ears, their feet, etc. Often he’ll find an infection of some sort and he’ll send one of his residents right then to go fill a prescription and bring it back to the person within the hour.”

The whole church is involved in ministries like this, and the teenagers notice.

What do the teenagers in your community see from the church? Are they learning to serve and love the community like Christ himself demonstrated? Or do they only see that from Lady Gaga?

You see, this young generation is a very “cause” oriented generation. They are looking for ways to make a difference. The question is… who do they see really making an impact? Earlier this year I shared with you how Lady Gaga was named the #1 key influencer to young people, known for compassion, raising millions for Japan and being a spokesperson for numerous causes. Since then, Forbes even named her #1 most powerful celebrity women, beating out Oprah.

Do your teenagers see more compassion and service out of Gaga than the church? Are believer seeking to get their hands dirty and serve like Christ modeled?

Are you creating opportunities for ministry by teenagers?

This Friday my church opens up its gym to anyone needy in the community—something they call “Second Fridays.” It’s this simple. They feed a meal to anyone who is hungry.

Every second Friday hundreds show up for these “Second Friday” meals. Justin, a 17-year-old in my church shows up every week to serve food and just hang out with the needy people there. “I just love hanging out with them.” Justin told me. “They’re real people with real stories. I can talk with them for hours.”

Justin’s first taste of this ministry was years ago, going with his family and serving back in the kitchen. As Justin became a steady and dedicated volunteer, he began to get to know some of the needy people that returned each month. Now Justin’s job is to interact with the people.

Second Fridays opens the doors to tons of other ministry opportunities. They church gives away coats and clothing, they also have people there that provide haircuts and other needs.

Are you developing Justins in your church?

What are some of the ways people in your church serve and love others?

(Jonathan talks more about creating opportunities for teenagers to do ministry in his powerful book, MINISTRY BY TEENAGERS)

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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3 Responses to Teenagers Looking for Ministry?

  1. David C. says:

    Right on! I’m seeing my youth take initiative in serving and taking an active role in the growth of their faith. I’ve been with my current church just over two years. In that time the youth have moved from having no steady youth worker to 1) building excitement about planning and sharing lessons themselves on topics that interest them (with surfing as the only one I can’t think of scriptural basis for!), 2) starting a costume drive for an orphanage in Mexico, and 3) the older girls wanting to establish a girls’ small group for our younger girls. I am amazed by them and get the privilege of supporting and encouraging them in the pursuits that make their hearts beat faster. As God guides them, I know God will also raise up adult mentors to pour into their lives and then… WATCH OUT!! God bless you, and thanks for TS4YM!

  2. Christina Valenti says:

    Research is proving that teens love to take risks, what better way to help them take these risks then providing opportunities to serve others. A couple things I’ve learned along the way of designing hands on service projects for kids.

    1) Start small – Don’t be discouraged if only a couple kids come out for the first event. Our first couple service events had around ten kids, our last one had 42 and was one of best attended events in youth group history, but it takes a while for the vision to catch on. (A cool video helps!) but encourage those who have the vision to run with it.

    2) Keep it relational – teens love doing things with their friends – designing opportunities for them to serve with friends is key.

    3) Don’t skip the debrief! Someone once said it’s not experience that teaches it’s reflection on the experience. We end our service days with a meal at my house – yes, it’s extra work, but this provides space where kids can share their stories. Helping kids process what they’ve experienced (immediately after the event) helps the remember and apply what they are learning.

    4) Depending on the resources of your church, consider partnering with others who are committed long term to whatever cause your helping. This means the ministry continues after you leave. This is so key to make sure that our acts of service benefits the community and not just our kids!

    Planning events an opportunities for youth to “get messy” in the act of service are planning intensive, and require extra work to pull off, but so often these are the times their faith becomes real and I’ve see so many hearts expand in the process. You’ll never know what your kids are capable of till you challenge them to live out their faith through service to the community.

  3. Sabina Neko says:

    Dear Servant of God,
    We are glad for your faith and truth which you have posted on your website which indicate that God has inspired you more about the word of God. We praise be to
    God because He has purpose why we have been directed to contact you to join our local congregation which have the Brethren who are 24 who are glad to have you as our spiritual leader who can inspire us more because our prayer is that we need to grow in the word so that even us can spread the word before the second coming of Jesus Christ . God bless you as we
    look forward to hear from you.
    yours in service
    Pastor Sabina