The “Next Generation” Is Still The Church

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I’ve been involved in church and youth group since 5th grade. I’ve been involved in a student leadership role since freshman year of high school. I write this article as an incoming college sophomore majoring in Discipleship Ministry and minoring in Children’s (and soon Youth) Ministry. I have had a fair amount of experience with and as youth in the church.

I believe in youth ministry, and I believe in this generation. I’ve seen kids and teens called to ministry, as well as experienced it. I’ve seen how a church can be changed when the youth are on fire for God. Despite all this, people are reluctant to work with youth. Youth ministry is seen as a job to have util you are “upgraded” to Pastoral Ministry. We call them the next generation, but is that really how God intended the church to be structured?

A professor in one of my first semester freshman ministry classes started the first class by putting a Bible on the front table.

“Anyone that can show me a passage where the family is split up by age for worship will get an automatic A in this class.”

Now as he continued to explain, this doesn’t mean we don’t need youth or children’s ministry. Instead, we should be thinking about why we do things the way we do. We often refer to children and teens as the “next” generation, or the future church, but when Israel was wandering through the desert did God call them “My people and their children, my future people” or were they all His people? The youth are part of the church now, where they are and as they are.

As of 2016, over half of teens that grow up in church end up leaving. This is definitely due to a lot of different things, but I firmly believe that one of them is the way that we differentiate between the generations.

To the youth reading this, you can make a difference now. So many people regret not making better choices when they were younger, or not getting serious about God until they got older. You have that chance now. Get involved in your church. Find a mentor. Read about the young people in the Bible, and the differences that they made. There’s not a certain age that you need to be to be part of the church.

To those involved in reaching out to and discipling these youth, keep going. Keep trying to get volunteers, keep trying to relate to “squad”, “lit”, and “fam”, and keep helping them get to know the amazing God that created and loves them. Don’t let your work feel unimportant, even in a world that likes to bash this generation, even with students that don’t understand the love you’re trying to give. Continue to believe in your students. Continue to help the church grow.

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