This is a picture from a church bulletin yesterday for “youth Sunday.” No, it wasn’t my church. We don’t have “youth Sunday” anymore. No, this was a bulletin from another local congregation. We were there with a group for a Sunday night rally (which could be an entirely other post) and I ran across the bulletin sitting by the door.
This just brings up so many of the bad feelings I have encountered with “youth Sunday” over the years. Whether its a every 5th Sunday or just a couple times year – there seems to be one main understanding by most people. That is to say “youth Sunday is going to be bad. I will learn nothing. We will endure and be back to normal next week.” And this bulletin doesn’t help at all.
So, what do you do to get the youth involved in ministry without having it happen only on a youth Sunday? And how do you handle “youth Sunday?” Here are a few tips that have worked for me:
1. Don’t call it “Youth Sunday!” We call our 5th Sunday – Family Sunday. Our emphasis is on families sitting and worshiping together.
2. Get the students involved all 52 weeks of the year. I’m not saying you have to have a youth band or praise team. But if you have a student who can play an instrument or sing, then get them connected with the adults to be on a rotation (at least) of the regular praise team. Maybe some students can do a special a few times a year.
3. Don’t do it just because. If you are having a special service (Youth Sunday) because the church has always had one, don’t. Maybe the group dynamics have changed and the leadership is not there anymore. Maybe you don’t have anyone who wants to get up and speak or sing. Take some time off and focus on training and discipling the students. Then (maybe) you might have some leaders who could really do a stellar job the next time you want to do it.
4. If you’re going to do it, do it well. Have practice. Have an order of service that each participant gets – and don’t hand it out on Sunday morning. Go over each aspect and help the students where needed. If there are not any students who can preach, or don’t want to preach by themselves – do a tag team sermon or help them write and practice. Whatever you do, do not let the service be low quality – it will only continue the feeling that Youth Sunday is a Sunday worth missing.
5. Teach the congregation. Throughout the year, make it a point to share with the congregation (corporately or individually) about the students. Share that they are as much a part of the congregation as the adults. Some adults are “ready” to be in more visible roles and some are not. Some youth are “ready” to be in visible roles and some are not. It is not a matter of age. Really, its a matter of gifts and spiritual maturity.
What experiences have you had with Youth Sunday? Do you have any other tips?