Is There A Consequence In Our Separation?
A couple of years ago, ministry headlines told of the absence of twenty-somethings in many churches. Even churches with incredible student ministries are wondering where the students go after they graduate from high school. It’s not a new dilemma. It’s a problem that’s been around for years. What get’s me is, how come we haven’t pin pointed the problem and come up with a solution to remedy the situation?
I think there is a dangerous consequence when we build our programs to be separate from the ministry of the larger church. We have created the student ministry worship service, the student ministry mission trip, and the student ministry activity calendar. Some churches go as far as holding separate worship times for students and adults, splitting the family during a time when the family should worship together. I often wonder if the consequence of these decisions is a generation of students who do not know how to worship or serve within the life and ministry of the larger church.
If the majority of their high school years is spent separated from the life and ministry of the larger church, how do learn to worship and serve with adults. As youth workers, we cater to our students interests in style of worship, use of media, instrument selection, and drama. We create atmospheres that students love and are effective in impacting their lives for transformation. However, how often do they find the same worship experience beyond our youth worship? On more than one occasion I have heard college students say, “I just can’t find a church that worships the way we worshipped in youth group, so I don’t go to church right now.” Ouch. That comment should cause all of us to shudder.
So, what would it look like for us to begin to make a shift that brings students into the larger ministry of the church? Maybe instead of our separate student worship, we focus on getting students to attend, even serve, at the main worship gathering. Perhaps instead of the normal student mission trip this summer, we create a missions opportunity where students serve alongside adults and families from the larger church community. What if instead of having a church activity calendar and a student ministry calendar, we sit down with the leadership and plan one calendar that integrates all the ministries creating new opportunities to meet, fellowship, laugh, and build relationships.
I think it’s time to get off the island. And, thanks to resources like Sticky Faith, Growing Young and others, I think we’re starting to move in that direction.
Written by, Jay Higham.
Something to think about…
- Evaluate the state of ministry at your church. Look specifically for places where the student ministry and the larger church community share in activities like worship, service, fellowship, even discipleship and Bible study. How would you rank your church on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “we don’t anything together” to 10 being “we do great at mixing things up.”
- List out some of the areas, activities, service opportunities, or worship experiences that include and/or blend the ministries together well.
- Where do you think there is room for improvement, and how would you go about making changes to bring the student ministry into the life and ministry of the larger church?
We’d love the hear from you. Share you response in the comments below!