When there are no young people in your church where do you start…
It can be an age old dilemma, how do we get children and young people through the doors of church?
The less than favourable answer is there is no silver bullet, but it can be done; with intention, commitment and a passionate hope. You may not end up with a youth group of twenty but you might just find you encourage and influence the lives of one or two young people. That in itself may seem discouragingly small, but from Luke 13:18–19 we know that God’s Kingdom, can be like a tiny mustard seed that is planted which them grows into a great tree.
The older we get the more out of touch we can feel with the youngest generations, their interests, language and technology. But time after time different research by the Church of England, Youthscape and Youth for Christ, amongst others shows that the fundamentals never really change. Universally young people want to be accepted; they fear loneliness and rejection and long for relationship, which is authentic, where they are seen, understood and respected.
In the Diocese of Norwich itself, based on population statistics, the smallest number of children and young people in any one parish is approximately 50. This means that where you live there are some families with young people you could be engaging with.
But before engagement comes motivation. Why do you want to reach out to young people in the first place? There are a whole host of legitimate reasons we want to see our churches congregations strengthened in number, but the primary focus must be on sharing the good news of Jesus. Ask yourself the question and learn to articulate ‘What is the good news or gospel, and what does it mean to me?’ What difference does it make to your life, that you would want to communicate to others?
Leading Your Church into Growth is an organisation that offers training and resources to support churches – they have a framework based on 4P’s.
- Prayer – develop a heart for those your wish to reach by praying for them, by name, regularly.
- Presence – find a way to be present with young people, go where they are or start a simple drop in or event such as a film night.
- Proclamation – present the Gospel as good news – learn to talk about your faith.
- Persuasion – you proclaim the Gospel…some are not interested…but some are.
How do you help those who are interested and want to know more? Can you develop a space where young people can discover:
- Authentic relationships
- A place to belong
- A place to ask questions
- A place to hear how the good news of Jesus has made a difference to people in your community.