I write this little article for our Anglican church newspaper in Tasmania. So i thought i'd post them on here too.

Cross Training

Chris Bowditch shares an idea about youth ministry

An Anglican church in Colorado in the USA got a new rector and he wanted to start a youth ministry. The congregation make-up was similar to that of many of our Tasmanian Anglican churches: elderly and declining.

The minister and a committed core of eight people spent a year together praying weekly for God to show them how they might be able to reach out to young people. They had no cool young 20 year-old youth worker, but only some genuine elderly followers of Jesus.

Tragedy struck the town where this church was based and a young man in the town died suddenly. This young man's family did not live in the town, so his funeral was to be held too far away for most of his friends to attend.

One day they saw the Anglican minister in a shop and after talking with him for a while asked if he would do a memorial service for this recently deceased young man. The next week at the memorial service the minister and his committed team prepared some food to serve to the young people who attended. They were expecting maybe five or ten people to attend. However, over 100 young people turned up for the service. After the service they all stayed and received the hospitality from these committed people. This church's youth ministry is now advertised as 'Grandma's Home Cooking. Fresh-made soup. Everyone's welcome.'

The next few times they ran this event, 60 young people showed up and questions were starting to be asked about who these people were and what church was all about. 1.

Ministering to young people can be a daunting thing, especially if it is not something your church has done for many years! But when starting we must begin in prayer and guard against thinking a youth ministry ought to look a certain way. Simply because 30 or 40 young people playing games with other young adults works in my church, or other churches, it does not mean that is where you will need to start when trying to set up a youth ministry in your own parish.

I could have chosen to write here a five-step process to starting to run a youth group, but I think that would be mostly unhelpful. My aim is to encourage you to seek God's will for your church and how it can best minister to young people.

If your passion is for young people, if your heart is to see your church revived by an influx of young people, then chances are you are the person that is going to have to step out and start your church's youth ministry. It's not someone else's job.

1. This story comes from a book called Contemplative Youth Ministry by Mark Yaconelli. I would strongly recommend it as a good place to start reading and learning how to seek God's will for your church's ministry to young people.