Is your youth ministry a group of six or seven grades each filled with cliques, or, is your youth ministry a family? As Youth Pastors, we must be intentional in fostering community and a group identity. We must take students from various grades, schools, backgrounds, and talents, and show them how they are part of our youth ministry family.
As a child and student at First Baptist Church of Amarillo, I still vividly remember Sunday’s where someone would join the church. After coming forward during a response time, the pastor would introduce the individual or family joining the church and everyone in the congregation would collectively say, “Welcome to the family!”
I loved this! I still love this idea! In a world where students face adversity and exclusion almost daily, their youth ministry should be a place of inclusion and acceptance. Their youth ministry should be a loving family.
Here are 4 ways to make a youth ministry a family:
1. Preach it early and often from the stage.
Students need to hear this concept from you! It WILL NOT happen naturally. They need to hear that everyone is invited, everyone is accepted, and that NO ONE is excluded from gospel community.
2. Get upperclassmen to mentor underclassmen.
We do this in two ways:
- Upperclassmen lead guys & girls groups
- One-on-one mentoring (by selected students only)
3. Occasionally integrate older and younger Small Groups.
If you do Small Groups on Wednesday or Sunday nights, think about occasionally mixing a couple of the grades. (Seniors with 8th graders, Juniors with 7th graders, Sophomores with 6th graders)
4. Get upperclassmen to serve the ministry at large.
Encourage your upperclassmen to come to church with the intent of building relationships and “looking for loners.” When upperclassmen lead the way on inclusion and intentionally find ways to bring the outsiders in, the ministry becomes a family.
How are you making your youth ministry feel like a family? Comment below!