Realistic Integration of Youth Ministry and the Church

All this talk about working to integrate our students into church before they have to make a huge leap from youth group to the adult services is helpful. But what isn’t helpful is the voices who simply want you to drop everything you’re currently doing (and is working) and go with some new plan.

Sometimes you have to get rid of something and start over completely—but we’re not convinced this is one of those times. So here are a few suggestions to help you take baby steps toward the integration of youth ministry and the church.

Serve together…mostly
An easy way to get some quick inter-generational ministry happening in your church is to combine some of your serve projects immediately. Consider cancelling the majority of your youth group service projects and join those in place for the church at large. Imagine the conversations that will take place as people serve food, rake leaves, or paint together. Chances are the older people in your congregation will be just as surprised as your teenagers at how fun it was to serve side-by-side!

Worship together…occasionally
Most youth groups have their own worship service or Sunday School happening at the same time the rest of the church is gathered for worship. What if you completely cancelled your youth stuff once a month so the teenagers could attend church with their parents? Sure, some might choose to stay home that weekend, but it’s a fairly simple way to make a statement that says, “25% of the time, our church worships together…and we need the teenagers to be part of the action!”

Mission trips…maybe
One of the big steps we’re considering is to integrate mission trips. Offering a Spring Break trip? What it everyone got involved? Is there a big church-wide trip to South America or Africa? Get behind it and take some students! Each church has their own missions agenda/format, but this is something worthy of consideration.

Overnighters…never
Hey, there are some things adults are happy are totally separate from them. Keep overnighters this way…but be thankful for the adults who do show up, give up sleep, and care for your students.

Where else is there opportunity for easy integration between your youth ministry and the church?

Previous articleAngry Nerds
Next articleWhy So Many Movies Fail
Kurt Johnston
Kurt Johnston has been involved in junior high ministry since 1988 and is currently the junior high pastor at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He's the author of Controlled Chaos: Making Sense of Junior High Ministry and Go Team! He loves providing resources for junior high ministry almost as much as he loves junior highers themselves.