Today's Back to School guest post is from Jason Chenoweth, Youth Pastor at Shelbyville Community Church in Shelbyville, IN and part of our 2012 Sticky Faith Cohort. Be sure to check out our free Back to School Webcasts Tues, Wed, and Thurs this week at 11:00am PDT!
Our student ministry is trying to figure out how to implement what we've been learning from Sticky Faith, and we're making some subtle changes this year.
We are realizing that our main worship services on Sunday morning need some tweaking. We have what many people would call a "contemporary" worship style, and very practical sermons based on Scripture. Because of this, our services are not hostile to students by any means. The issue we are evaluating is that our services are not inclusive either. Students rarely, if ever, help in planning or participating in the services. Sermon series rarely take students into account, and the teaching staff isn't actively encouraged to consider students when writing sermons. Nor does the worship team have a mandate to think of students when building the music and arts part of the morning.
Now, don't misunderstand; we are not calling for a wholesale change, or for Sundays to be focused on our students. That would not be any more helpful than our current program.
Our students don't need to "take over" the main services, or to become the "focus group" for the morning. We simply want to create paths for them to take ownership alongside of our existing teams, and for our adults to see the students as partners in their ministries. We are working to find ways to incorporate students into all of our arts teams as participants, and hope to find a few key students to assist in the planning ministry for our Sunday services. We are beginning ongoing conversations with our senior pastor and worship pastor about how to give examples in their messages that are inclusive of students. Our student ministry is going to begin promoting our Sunday service regularly to our groups, and encouraging them to attend and get involved. As we communicate with parents, we are beginning to help them understand the vital importance for their students to be in the main services with them, and how to engage them afterwards.
None of this is groundbreaking, by any means. But, as we have come to understand the impact it has on students’ ability to hold on to their faith and church involvement beyond high school, it is vital. We are only in the beginning stages, but we have great hopes to set measurable, attainable goals with our adult teams, and see what God might do over the coming year.