1. Invite them to run an event. If a young person in your community is passionate about something, invite them to hold a fundraising or awareness raising event at your church. If you have young people in your congregation, invite them to lead a service every now and then. Keep in mind that it’s important to let them make their own decisions about the event, but also to resource them when they need it. A balanced mix of giving young people advice as well as independence goes a long way to their own personal growth. If they’re not doing it the way you would, let it go! You may just be surprised by a new way of looking at things. And if it doesn’t work out, that’s fine too. Be positive about what they did well and encourage them for next time.
2. Invite them to join councils, committees and working groups. If you have young people in your congregation, or associated with a group that your church is involved with, invite them to join in the decision making for that body. Not only will you be helping them grow and mature, you’ll also have a chance to get to know them better and get new ideas for your group. Just make sure that if you do invite a young person onto your council or working group, that you actually let them have a say and don’t just keep them as the ‘token young person.’ A bit of mentoring can also be a great thing. So tell them when their ideas are good and work with them on improving others.
3. Take an interest in what they are doing. Don’t just let the youth group kids stay on their side while the ‘grown ups’ stay on the other. Get to know the kids in your church community. Learn their names – and remember them! Ask them what they enjoy doing, what music they listen to. If they respond with something you’ve never heard of, even better! Get them to explain it to you. Don’t have a youth group or kids club at your church? This rule applies for any young people in your life.
4. Ask for their opinion. When planning an event for your church, a worship service or a new pastoral program, ask the young people in your community what they think. Not only will they be able to tell you if it clashes with other things they have on, but they might be able to give you some amazing new ideas. Young people have the advantage of fresh eyes and a fresh opinion might be all you need to get the ball rolling for your church’s new endeavours. Why not go one step further and ask the young people in your community what kind of programs they want? They might be longing for something that you have just the skill set to help them start up.
5. Listen to them. If you’re going to ask for an opinion from young people, then you’ve got to listen to it and take it seriously. It doesn’t mean that every idea is going to be a good one, but it does mean that their concerns and ideas need to be heard. Young people have a lot to say, but often we gloss over their voices thinking that ours are more important. They’re not! They’re equally important and if we aren’t listening to our young people we won’t ever be able to build strong relationships that are beneficial for all involved.