Involving Youth in Church Ministry

The church is full of opportunities for service. One exciting opportunity is the potential of engaging and encouraging the youth in our local churches to be involved in ministry.  Despite Paul’s exhortation in 1 Timothy 4:12 to “not let anyone despise your youth”, the local church has often relegated the teens and young adults to the youth groups and have ignored the potential they have to be effective servants of the Lord. The youth often get a bad rap because their “music is too loud”, their “clothes are too casual’, they “say inappropriate things sometimes”, they “lack initiative and drive for the Lord” and on it goes.

Guidance versus Criticism

What I have found in general when working with youth is that they have many struggles and pressures on them and are looking for guidance. Not all youth are stubborn and rebellious. Often they just need someone they can look up to and point them in the right direction. One reason youth feel ignored is that local churches don’t make the effort to give them something to do. Sure they will make mistakes, and yes, they sometimes go over the top.  But those are perfect opportunities to gently guide and direct them so they can grow and learn. The local church is for all believers of every age. If your local church does not have an active ministry or role for each young believer, then I would ask you to consider why not and how you can make them a part of the work.

Here are a few tips to getting your youth involved.

1. Remember their place in the body. Every believer has a spiritual gift they are given to use within the church. That includes even the youngest. The local church is where that gift is to be exercised and developed.  If the adults do not encourage the young people to use the gifts they have been given then how are they to develop them?  The Lord didn’t just equip the adults for service but every saint in the family of God.

2. Plan something they will like to do.  Young people today love specific things.  They love music, video, texting. Many of them play instruments and love to write or draw. Make them a part of your music ministry or get their creative juices flowing by writing skits they can present. Take the things from their lives and incorporate them into the meetings of the church.

3. Give them opportunities to serve. There are so many ways the youth can get involved in serving. Have them bake together then visit the elderly or shut ins. Take them with you to visit those who are sick. Help out neighbours around your church by having the youth cut their grass and rake up leaves. These types of ministries can have a huge impact on the life of the youth and train them to serve others as adults.

4. Mix old and young. The elderly and experienced believers in our churches have a vast wealth of knowledge to share with the youth. Be creative and think of ways they can be engaged with each other. When I was in grade 7, our junior youth group prepared and served a dinner for the seniors at our chapel. Afterwards we performed a talent show for them. To this day it is one of the things I remember the most about those years. That night has stuck with me all these years.

5. Be prepared to disciple. As mentioned before the youth will make mistakes. It’s not a maybe – it’s a definite! Instead of getting upset and dropping the ministry, sit down with those involved and lovingly guide them in the right way.  I am so thankful for the men and women who came along side of me when I made mistakes and in grace made a huge impact on my life. They made an impact because they cared about me. They didn’t enjoy saying what had to be said. I don’t think they will ever really know how much of an influence they had on me for good.

6. Don’t let personal taste get in the way. We all have our preferences with music, clothes, hobbies and activities.  It has always been a struggle for older ones to accept the preferences of youth. People and churches that have been able to put those aside and find common ground to work on have seen tremendous growth. Don’t see it as a compromise because it’s not. It’s what Paul refers to as “striving together.”  Even worse is to make a preference into a doctrine and hold it over the heads of the youth (or anyone for that matter).

7. Don’t make excuses. I have heard this comment all too often. I don’t understand the young people and it’s not my gift. There is NO spiritual gift of working with youth. We are commanded to love and serve one another and that is not restricted by age.  Every one of us should be active in helping and nurturing our young people.

Prayerfully consider how you can be more involved in the lives of the youth and how you can incorporate them into the ministry of the local church. If you have exciting and successful ways in your local church of engaging the young people, please post a comment below. We would love to hear from you.



  1. Avatar

    Praising God for this article. Your words came rushing over me like a heaven-sent flood of hope. I do not say that lightly. You gave great options for involvement.

    I would also include:

    1. Allow younger men to give the announcements. This will reinforce the names of various members (mainly the needy and discouraged) at the assembly in the mind of the young person reading them off, and may help build a bridge for that younger believer to strike up a conversation with an older individual because there is now material they know of to discuss. The announcement giver is also often asked to pray over many of the members in the bulletin, and praying for people usually softens a persons heart to be more mindful of the lives of others. Young people can benefit from learning who goes to their church, being in or even starting conversations with older believers, and learning the blessing of prayer (specifically how it removes selfishness from one’s heart).

    2. Allow young people to give the missionary report. Turning their attention to Gospel efforts and the needs of full-time workers.

    3. Music is a significant area of potential for inclusion, but you already touched on that. I would like to place a strong emphasis on it however at this point. Consider this for evangelistic outreaches as well.

    4. Passing the bread, the cup, and the offering. Does the NT limit this to the elders/deacons? By any means let’s engage as many members as possible.

    5. Sunday evening and Wednesday evening meeting participation. Scripture reading, teaching opportunities, power point team (creation and technology control), or maybe have them tally the attendance and assemble a youthful team to contact (via email or phone) those unable to make it — NOT FOR JUDGMENTAL REASONS, but simply reminding those not present where to find the audio recording on the church website, informing the absentee that they were missed, updating them on upcoming events or special reports made known at the meeting, etc.

    May this continue to wet our appetite… be creative!


    • Barefoot Hippie Girl

      Amen and amen!
      I was thinking about this very thing as my kids are approaching teen years. One prayed during prayer meeting a few weeks back and another read a Psalm during the breaking of bread yesterday. The psalm was not one that a traditional brethren assembly person would pick, but it is what he felt compelled to read. So, older brothers have choices before them…praise the courage it took to stand up and read and then train on what is considered “appropriate” or clamp down on them for sharing the wrong thing. The response is crucial to the future of the assemblies. And to the future of young believers. I firmly believe we need to get the youth involved. And I really appreciated your suggestions and the ones of the commenter above.


      • Avatar

        Without knowing the details of what was said there’s a lot of things that are appropriate for the breaking of bread. If young people are not being taught regularly about what is applicable then it’s not their fault if they don’t quite measure up. My first response would be encouragement and appreciation for him getting up.


    • Avatar

      What we did in our church as to involve the youth to the ministry, we help them to find or discover their Spiritual Gift(s). As youth Pastor, what i did was, i passed on them a sort of Spiritual Inventory Survey and allow them to fill it out. The results shows that, the gifting of the youth in our church falls on four categories; Service, Teaching, Leadership, and Foundation. From their i will lead them to the next level, the ministry involvement. I am excited. amen!


  2. Avatar

    When my daughter was 16 and I was coordinating the Ladies Missionary Day I invited my daughter to publicly prayer for one of the speakers. During the message she took notes and was fully prepared to go before the Lord and the gathering of women to pray for the speaker. Involving young people sends a message of inclusion into our Spiritual family, acceptance of their role in the family, and honors all of God’s children. Our Christian legacy begins with “training up a child” by modeling, mentoring, and praying for them.


    • Avatar

      You make a great point about honouring all of God’s children. That’s a topic to be considered further. Thanks for commenting!


  3. Avatar

    I appreciate this article and the resulting comments very much. One of the questions I have heard the most in the assemblies is “How can we keep our young people from leaving the assembly?”
    Unfortunately, it seems that many of these young people in many assemblies experience feelings of being spiritually intimidated, undervalued, and uninvolved. From what I have seen/experienced, I believe that the thoughts/comments represented here are crucial, not only to the development of the body within many assemblies, but also to the general “survival” of many assemblies in the world.
    Thanks for this article, and may the Lord help us in this work.


    • Avatar

      Thanks for the comment Jeremy. I’ve been mulling over your question which I too have asked about why young people are leaving the assemblies. I’m starting to wonder if maybe my/our focus is in the wrong place. Instead of focusing on why they leave an assembly wouldn’t it make more sense to ask “How can we engage them more to love the Lord?” If we get them excited about the Lord and plugged in to serving him in the assembly leaving will be less likely. Are we more concerned about keeping them than seeing them grow personally? Just thinking out loud here.


  4. Avatar

    great article. I have also noticed the dwindling of young people in our assemblies. There are some great tips for the leadership in our assemblies to get the young people more involved. They are the future of the assemblies. If we don’t invest in them now. there will be no future for the assemblies.


  5. Dave Bingham

    Thanks Crawford for putting your finger on a serious problem. I have seen young people treated as if invisible. This would be a good forum to present even more ideas that are inclusive and serve the saints. Young people often do not understand why we meet as we do, see conflict between our “traditions” and the freedom of the scriptures.


  6. Avatar

    I have been meaning to come back and comment for awhile

    Having grown up in the assemblies and now having my own kids in one, one thing that has always baffled me is why children are not spoken to during meetings. They are there every single week and I have maybe once seen children addressed (it was something about “how many kids are around x age, ok that is about the age of who we are talking about…”)
    Mine struggle to listen because we ask them to, but to be perfectly honest there are some speakers where it is more frustrating for our young ones because the content/words/analogies are way beyond their abilities.


Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.