- We believe that having a youth worker does not release the rest of the church from our responsibilities towards young people.
- We promise to encourage everyone to play a part in volunteering, supporting or praying for young people.
Who’s responsibility is the youth work in the church?
If the answer is ‘the youth worker’, you might want to think again. Appointing a youth worker doesn’t relieve the church of it’s broader responsibility for young people. It’s something shared by everyone. Churches should make sure appointing a youth worker doesn’t lead to the assumption that the job of youth work can be left to a single person.
Of course, the youth worker has a specific and important role. They will probably be leading and developing the youth work and spending a lot of time with the young people. But they shouldn’t feel that the church has simply handed the task over to them and left them to get on with it. Everyone in a church should be concerned about children and young people and should find a way to contribute to supporting them and helping them grow in faith.
For some this will mean volunteering alongside the youth worker to help run the programmes, meetings and activities, or perhaps making a more occasional commitment by helping out on weekends away and trips. But it doesn’t have to stop there. A healthy youth ministry programme needs drivers, prayers, cooks, cleaners and those who will simply take the time to stop and talk to a young person and listen to them. Everyone has a part to play in youth work, not just the youth worker!
When we all take on responsibility for young people, it increases the capacity and effectiveness of the youth worker rather than diminishing them. Best of all, young people themselves will feel more welcome and at ease in the church. They will know that they’re important, not just to the youth worker, but to everyone.
Questions to consider
- If you listed everyone who helps with young people in some way, whether regularly or occasionally, how many of the congregation would be involved in the youth work?
- If someone started attending the church, how would they know what opportunities there are to help young people and how they should go about volunteering?
- Does the church think about the needs of young people in the community as well as the young people who are part of the church community? If so, how does the church show this?
Ideas to help you meet this promise
- Have church leadership actively help the youth worker identify people in your congregation to recruit to help with the youth ministry.
- Challenge everyone in the congregation to find one way of supporting young people in the church, from volunteering to praying to providing meals for the weekend events!
- Set up a task group to explore ways that the church can get more involved in meeting the needs of young people in the community: for example, by encouraging church members to volunteer in other youth organizations and clubs.
What your church needs to do
- The church needs to plan to take two actions in the coming year related to this promise. Those actions do not necessarily need to be the suggestions made above. They can also include things that the church has already done previously and is planning to continue to do in the coming year