Encouraging Youth Involvement in Church
As followers of Christ, developing a heart and will to serve others is vitally important. And often, churches are the best places to find work, as ministries and outreach programs provide ample opportunities to serve.
For children, especially, parents must be diligent in fostering a spirit of generosity and selflessness, even in the very young. As the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6, we are to train children in the way they should go, and when they are older they will stay on that path.
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"Serving is a natural consequence of faith in Jesus Christ," says Steve Sindelar, Youth Pastor at Grace Church of Mentor in Ohio. "As food is needed for bodily growth, so service and involvement in Church is need for a growing, vibrant faith."
Marilynn Dawson, author of Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey, was raised to be involved in all aspects of church life, even as a small child. She says that a child's ability to serve is limited (or shaped) only by his/her level of maturity and the level of parental consent.
"A child as young as age four can assist the Sunday School class teacher in setting out crayons, coloring sheets, visual aids and the small chairs the children sit on," says Dawson. "A child who is 10 years old can assist with taking attendance at the door, running the offering envelope to the office, acting as a greeter to new children and assisting with room setup and takedown."
Additionally, Dawson suggests that pre-teens work in the nursery or serve as teacher or youth pastor assistants, while teenagers should be encouraged to take on a class of their own, sharing Bible studies and lessons with young children.
Cultivating a generation of church-active children is a strategy that Dawson believes can counteract the staggering numbers of youth who fall away from the church as they age into adulthood.
"If you want the next generation of leaders to stay in church, get them involved as youth," Dawson says. "When a child feels that they are loved, wanted, appreciated, and valuable, they will stay."
And even if a child initially resists becoming involved, says Sindelar, it is important for parents to press the issue.
"As infants we were made to eat and sleep, and eventually we caught on," Sindelar says. "Coming to church is not always the thing I want to do on a Sunday morning when our neighbors are sleeping in, but it is the right thing to do. Pray for your child's salvation, model Christ-like service before him, and creatively involve him in service opportunities. Eventually they'll catch on - just like with eating and sleeping."
Like this article? Read Andrea Williams' article Small Congregation versus a Mega-Church: Which is right for you?:http://breathecast.christianpost.com/articles/6236/20130214/small-congregation-vs-megachurch.htm
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