March 18, 2013

Youth Gotta Serve Somebody

Young people express a great desire to "have a purpose" and "make a difference." As a student friend of mine recently said about her Christian contemporaries, "They have a heart to serve." The church can facilitate this interest by putting spiritual gifts into use long before the preteens and teens become adults. Here are some ideas on how to encourage youth to serve God. 
Show the biblical basis. Nothing motivates and convicts us more than the Holy Spirit working through God's Word. Once they become a Christian, all young people have a:
  • spiritual gift that they are responsible for using  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. I Peter 4:10
  • great, redeemer God who is worthy of service  Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things he has done for you.     I Samuel 12:24
  • promise that God will reward those who serve Him  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23, 24
Give opportunity. Everyone can contribute to furthering God's kingdom by helping with small jobs. In my church*, the younger people make a game out of seeing who can collect the most used communion cups to put in the trash. They can learn to clean up after themselves in the pew on Sunday morning and to set the tables at a potluck dinner.
Make it meaningful. Nobody, including a young person, wants to waste her time on busywork. Try to observe the person's gifts and match them to a type of service. Some kids enjoy babies and love helping in our church's nursery. Under supervision, one teen likes preparing the church bulletins and newsletters for distribution. Older youth contribute to the discussion as part of our ministry teams.
Come alongside. It takes patience to teach someone who doesn't do things exactly the way you do, but it is worth it. And, joy in serving can be contagious. Today in church, my greeters were a kindly retired couple and a grammar school girl who is not related to them. She distributed the bulletins.   In addition, parents help their children buy presents and pack boxes a Christian group that gives Christmas gifts and shares the Gospel with boys and girls around the world. Young and old play instruments side-by-side in my church's orchestra.
Show that Christianity is more than fun and games. Many churches expend so much energy inventing new ways to entertain their youth, with few results. A sister church has an excellent youth group that includes creative fun, but these activities are not the whole focus. The element that seems to bond the kids together is an annual trip to fix up houses of disadvantaged people in another state. They learn so much about service and their own attitudes in that one week.
Don't do the work for them.  Youth can lose the satisfaction of using their gifts when adults perform all the hard parts for them. When raising support for a summer missions project, the young people in my church take the donations, do set up, serve food and help clean up after fundraising dinners. While participating in service projects at their Christian school, my children sold their own wrapping paper and specialty food items. When the school needed monetary contributions, the children approached their list of donors personally and sent thank you notes in their own handwriting.

Youth is a good time to begin serving God by using spiritual gifts. With His help, this practice can blossom into spiritual fruit that continues to make an eternal difference.
* Examples are given to stimulate your thinking about how a church can engage young people in acts of service. My own church still needs to grow in this.


  1. I have been thinking recently about how "doing something" is increasingly valued, and how we sometimes have a generational misunderstanding about that. Young people want to serve, and older people are often just concerned with providing them fun and fellowship. I wish we could get the generations to communicate effectively with each other. This post is a great start!

  2. Yes! The church as a whole is losing so many of its youth once they graduate. If we would just unleash them to serve in their gifts and stop suppressing them, I wonder how those stats would turn around?

  3. I love to try to point out to my kids (7 and 2) how every day things effect other people with the goal of encouraging them to think of others. They seem genuinely more excited to do things when they realize that it's for someone else, which thrills my heart! My little girl loves to help put the chairs away after church service (we rent space from a middle school), and I'm thankful for how the adults are patient with her as she drags them a chair and often "gets in the way".
    My son is physically more limited in how he can help, but I'll tell you what, he can cheer up the gloomiest gus out there! One day at church he saw a man by himself that we don't know (who did turn out to be a visitor) and rolled over to give high fives. You should have seen the look of kind surprise on this man's face.
    So, again, sorry for the long comment, but I think it's important to find these seemingly small areas that children can help and then talk to them about how it is actually service for God and His people!
    Thanks for this post!


Join the conversation!
All comments become the property of Sunday Women.

COMMENTING HINTS: If you are baffled by the "Comment As_____" choices, you can simply select "Anonymous" and include your name in the comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...