Many students enter ministry without much thought. It’s just “one more thing” that they do. They participate in ministry because their parents expect it or because their friends are there.
As youth leaders, one of our key goals is to help our students move from a passive faith driven by others to a faith that stands on its own. Apathy can set in if students get stuck in a “just show up” mentality and limit their involvement to that of a spectator.
In my own life, I grew up in church; and, just like many of us with a church background, I struggled with doubts about my faith. It wasn’t until I began actively serving in my church that I had confidence in my faith. I started by doing service activities in youth group, then I was given leadership roles in summer programs. Later, I returned as a youth leader. As I became more involved, I grew more confident in my faith.
In a youth ministry setting, we often get so caught up with the logistics of our meetings- the activities, the atmosphere, and the teaching- that we neglect the instruction from Colossians 2:6; “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” Youth ministry is not just about teaching students about their faith and helping them learn how to answer hard questions. Walking in Him plays a key role in students being rooted, built up, and established in their faith.
What can we do to help this process?
1. Start with Prayer
Pray for your students. Pray that God will help you recognize types of service opportunities that will resonate with each of your students.
2. Watch and Listen
Watch to see people and activities that the student is drawn to. Listen for things they discuss or ask questions about. Look for special talents among your students. If nothing is obvious, don’t be afraid to chat with a student about their likes and interests. Then, pray for wisdom to match their interests with service opportunities.
3. Be Creative
Creativity is an important aspect of this process. Do not limit your students to a handful of options, like cleaning or helping in the children’s program. While all ministries are important, not everyone is cut out for them. Try to take the activities they already enjoy and add an aspect of service.
For example, consider an activity like gaming. If one of your students is interested in gaming, challenge them to find a way to encourage their fellow gamers and seek to start gospel conversations with them.
When you help a student connect their passions with an area to serve regularly, you are helping them experience authentic Christianity. This is when their faith becomes their own. They are no longer just spectators. They understand that they have a greater purpose in the body of Christ, one that will drive them to learn more and have an even greater impact.
If you are looking for a great way to implement ministry in your youth group, consider applying a small group strategy. Encourage leaders to get involved, allowing each leader to work with a handful of students. This helps the students to build a connection with a caring adult and learn from their example of ministry.
For more information and resources on how to engage your students in ministry, check out Word of Life’s small group training at the link below.
Dwight serves as the National Operations Manager for Word of Life Youth Ministries. Prior to that, he was a Word of Life Youth Ministry Coach in Southern New England for 23 years. He and his wife Diana currently live in Schroon Lake, NY and have two adult daughters.
1 thought on “<strong>Three Ways To Engage Your Students in Ministry</strong> ”
This is awesome! It’s so important to engage students even though it can be difficult, and we certainly don’t want to sacrifice truth. Great tips!