Why should teens be involved in their local church? That's the question I've been exploring in this series, The Greatest Institution on Earth. Check out the Introduction
, Part 1
, Part 2
, and Part 3
. As I end this series, know that this list of reasons why teens need the church is by no means exhaustive. Search for more ways and reasons, but in this post I'll look at the fourth and final reason:
4. The church presents an opportunity and foundation for service
There's a widely-believed yet quietly-spoken lie alive in many churches today that teenagers cannot serve in the church. Teenagers are not mature enough, or spiritual enough, or simply responsible enough. And sadly, though I'm attempting to avoid deprecation of my generation, sometimes this is true. There are teens that are immature, worldly, and irresponsible. But the Christian teen should not be so. And if they long to grow closer to Christ, they must be given the opportunity for service in their local church.
This will look different in many different churches, especially based on the size of their church. Bigger churches will have more opportunities, smaller churches less. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It will simply look different.
This will also look different based on teens' areas of interest and gifts. This will change how we approach service. That's not to say that we should never do something we might dislike or may perhaps make us uncomfortable. What is does mean is that God has given us unique strengths and skills, and it should be our desire to joyfully use them to serve the church.
But why service to the church? I mean, teens are busy people! We have all these other institutions that we're involved in - sports, relationships, school, family. Do we need to be serving the church? Can't we be content humbly serving another institution? Is that not "Christian" enough?
Teens need to serve the church. Yes, they should be serving their families and teachers, but the church (as I have attempted to explain) is different than any other institution. It's a community of believers. It's also like a family. If teens are serving their families, they know how important that is. Family constitutes a blood bond, but more importantly an emotional bond. Most of us desperately love our families and, as we get older, we see that we have a responsibility to them - that of service. We can repay some of our parents' service to us, and we can strengthen relationships with siblings by serving them. That is how a good family is to operate.
The church is not different - but it is. We are a family, not of blood or emotions, but of a spiritual bond. We are members of Christ's body, and so we are all expected to serve Christ as we serve each other. The Christian adult is not merely allowed to serve; they're encouraged! That's because the New Testament writers of the early church never just commended service; they commanded it! (1 Peter 4:10; Galatians 5:13; Romans 12:10-17)
Why aren't teens called on to serve then? If we have demonstrated ourselves to be mature and responsible with a genuine faith, I believe that we should be encouraged to serve in the church too. This is the culture of low expectations for teens; our society is pervaded with these ideas that teens cannot and should not be expected to "do hard things." Or even, more responsible or mature things. Yet teens are capable of so much more than these expectations
But how? What are some practical ways that we can serve? As I've said before, this will look different in different churches with different scenarios.Here are just some ideas from personal experience and from my own church:
-- Children's Ministry. Teens have a fantastic opportunity to display the gospel and model Christlike character to those younger than us. This is definitely a specialized interest, and girls may feel more gifted in this than guys. Talk to your children's ministry leaders about possibly helping out at VBS or a weekly kid's ministry.
-- Music. Most churches have a music team(s) that lead congregational singing. There are opportunities for both musicians and singers to participate in this ministry. This obviously relies on some gift and ability, but it can be an excellent way for teens to serve.
-- Tech. This may not seem like much of a ministry, but it absolutely is. Whether it's recording your pastor's sermons or projecting slides onto the screen or adjusting mic volumes, in this day and age, this work is totally necessary. And as young people tend to be more familiar with computers and technology, you can serve some of the older members of your church who struggle to do this on their own.
-- Cleaning/Yard Work. Naturally, this sounds like a pretty unglamourous job. It also depends on the size of your church, whether it's cleaning the whole church or offering to clean out a closet or basement, you may be surprised how much this background service would help someone else out. It also can include cutting the church lawn, washing windows, and shoveling snow.
-- Senior's Ministry. When we lived in Texas, I had such a neat opportunity to serve in a Friday morning senior's games fellowship and lunch. I got to simply talk to some of the seniors, hear their stories, gain their wisdom, and honour them. I realized how amazing these people really are! Teens can unconsciously adopt the cultural attitude of dishonour toward seniors, yet they have an opportunity to serve them.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Teens can also serve as ushers, through prayer ministry, hospital visits, or many more opportunities. Look at your own church; see where there is a need for you to serve. And then do it. For the church is a community of servants. So if you are involved, you must serve.
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