Many youth continue to look for ways to make a difference with their life. As the church that is invested in the lives of these young people, we desire to see them deepen their faith and develop the gifts and skills God’s entrusted to them. We care about their faith development.
One key question is: what could be a next step for them? In what area do they need help to stretch and grow as disciples of Christ? There are many ways your church can help facilitate next steps. It could be partnering youth (individually or in groups) with adults who will guide and mentor them as they serve alongside each other, for example in property maintenance, congregational care, or audio-visual services.
Some opportunities are just too much for us, as an individual church, to accommodate. However, when we lean into other churches and agencies, the opportunities are greatly extended. Our Avalanche and Blizzard slingshot and team captain roles are key avenues in which young people can develop key ministry skills in a larger context. This year, although we, of course, must modify our program in light of the pandemic, we will nonetheless be experimenting with innovative approaches that will enable youth to participate in life-transforming experiences. More information will become available at cboqyouth.ca/slingshotteamcap.
Consider other para-church and non-profit ministries near you that may have opportunities that best suit one or more of your youths. Ask around—or ask us—to find out more about what might be a good fit.
As you continue to journey with your youth, consider these three things:
- Ensure that the opportunity is a growth area for them, and that it isn’t just filling a need for you. Yes, there are times when we ask others to step up and serve in a particular ministry (or in a particular way) to lend a hand. That’s what the body of Christ does for one another. However, if we constantly ask youth to fill in for these types of jobs, we’re just using them. Let’s seek ways to help them grow specifically, in ways that are meaningful to them.
- Discern next steps with the youth. Perhaps some already sense a specific next step; let’s encourage and support that. Others are not sure what next steps are or could be, so let’s help them prayerfully seek what that may be and walk them through the process.
- Track progress with and for your youth. While you may not have a comprehensive plan, it’s still important to help youth track and plan their next development steps. First, help them identify a next step. Help connect them with a study or a specific experience. Being able to roadmap these significant experiences helps a student recognize the direction in which God is leading that individual. Note that tracking is for each person, not for the group as a whole. (Sometimes, however different student’s goals may overlap and allow for a more collaborative/collective effort.)
We want to help develop our upcoming generation so they can thrive as faithful stewards in God’s creation. Perhaps some of these youth will help our particular local context in specific ways. But God may take many of them into other places; we need to be ready to bless and release them in those directions. In the end, part of our call is to prepare them for the coming steps God has for them.