Youth participation in worship is insufficient, often restricted to a “youth Sunday” once a year, which sends the wrong message to youth as to how much they are valued in the Christian community. The youth leaders felt that youth should be engaged in the planning of the church’s ministry programs and activities.
For youth ministry to be effective, it needs to be incarnational, based on the identity of the local congregation and the current realities of youth. Youth ministry needs to be intentional, adapted to the needs and the overly committed schedule of North American youth that churches seek to disciple, and seeking to understand the language used by youth. It should be collaborative, developing partnerships with parents, homes and schools where possible and appropriate.
It is therefore important for churches to engage youth beyond the four walls of the church. “Be aware of and prepare to address the issues affecting youth,” BWA Youth Director Emmett Dunn said. “Get to know the other significant individuals in the lives of youth: teachers, coaches and close friends. School sporting activities should not be considered as competing with the church but as an extension of the church’s ministry as it relates to the individual’s physical development.”
Greater emphasis needs to be placed on training as “a significant number of youth ministers and leaders are not adequately trained.” Awareness and sensitivity to diversity issues is important in contexts where churches minister among immigrant populations.
Participants at the meeting on November 21 included persons from the Latino, Caribbean, African American and Anglo communities in the US.
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