Creating Lifelong Followers: Getting Teens Involved in a Local Church
By: Ken Schmidtke
Getting teens to start attending church is a challenge for me! It has never been easy; teens can be flakey agreeing to go but never follow through for various reasons. This one area of ministry has been difficult to accomplish . . .
. . .That was, until a couple of years ago. We had a breakthrough that was unplanned but very exciting. Tim and Justin are two youth pastors who partner with us in Campus Life at schools in close proximity to their churches. They are passionate about serving the school community and seeing teens come to know Jesus. They were not satisfied with kids who responded to Jesus but did not connect to the nearby churches. Tim and Justin are not territorial in their view of church ministry to the community they serve. On the contrary, they will encourage kids to attend a church where the kids will most likely connect! Their encouragement to help kids to church was not just verbal. They started picking kids up themselves and taking them to church. It was a commitment that helped dozens of teens not only start attending church, but also open the door for them to serve in the church as well as introduce their families!
Tim shared with me his own observation: “when I started at Graham Covenant as the associate pastor a little over a year and a half ago I had no idea the impact Campus Life would have on our Church. In the time I have been involved in Frontier Jr. High's CL ministry I have seen several young peoples’ lives transformed by the power of the Gospel! Well over half of our youth group kids at Graham Covenant started coming because of their involvement first with Campus Life. We have even seen a handful of these kids become Sunday school teachers, assistant teachers and leaders in the youth ministry. I am so excited about the potential of all the lives that can be impacted through club. By first introducing young people to Christ, then encouraging involvement with the local church, and ultimately seeing these young people on fire to serve Christ!”
What have we learned from this process?
1. We need to be intentional with being the bridge to help teens who have no connection with church or even know the value of attending. They will come because they trust us and we are willing to make the effort to pick them up week after week.
2. We need to walk them through the process of what it is to be a part of the church. Church is a foreign entity to an increasing segment of youth and their families. We build the value in them because they see it in us.
3. Let go of territorialism and embrace the larger view of the body of Christ. It is exciting to see Tim and Justin develop trust between themselves and their respective churches and youth groups. They exemplify the value of “oneness” in the body of Christ. Their enthusiasm is growing to other youth pastors and pastors in the community, which in turn percolates into the school communities in which they are involved!
This is what we want to see develop: to see Campus Life youth and their begin to become a part of the local church community. We have not arrived but I am excited by the direction that we are going!