North Creek Church is the home to LOTS of leaders who have been intimately involved in youth ministry over the last few seasons of their lives. So, needless to say, when a teenager walks into our church they are treated well! Many of us still miss the glory days of youth ministry and find solice in the eyes of someone under the age of 20. The last two years have actually been a training ground for talking to adults after so many years entrenched in junior high and high school lingo.
As youth pastors we developed one core value that will never be shaken…teenagers are usable. They can be on the worship team, they can teach, they can greet, they can serve in nearly every capacity that adults can. The statistics are staggering for the number of teenagers that walk away from Christianity when they graduate. I believe a lot of this is due to the fact that we are unable to connect a graduated senior into the life of the “adult” church. We haven’t given them any responsibility within the context as the church as a whole, so it’s a foreign land. Outside the four walls of the youth group, they haven’t developed very many relationships…especially pastoral relationships. So when it’s time to join the worship team, they get to start at the bottom of the food chain by meeting the worship pastor. It’s daunting and debilitating to an energetic 18 year old who has already invested their teen years into being a productive member of the church…but nobody knew it!
There is balance in our philosophy as well. We know that teenagers are still part “kid”, too. They need social time with their peers and teaching on different topics than what a typical adult might need. For example, abstinence is not a popular sermon among married people, but it’s vital that a teenager grasps the concept of abstinence and purity. That’s why our youth ministry gets their own sermon every other week. They get this beautiful mix of hearing from their youth pastor and their lead pastor all of the time.
We love the teenagers that call North Creek home. We know their names, we talk to them, and we do our best to understand the challenges and dreams that they have. And I believe it will pay off. I fully intend to have all of my jobs taken over by the amazing talent that is lurking two decades below me…