In my previous post, I mentioned how every Christian is a minister and how a church website really creates a new place to exercise spiritual gifts. (You can read that post here.) Because you’ll need different people to run the website, it’s a great way to mobilize those in your church for ministry service. It involves people – more specifically, a church website involves Christian youth.
Every Christian has a role to fill in his or her local church. No one is supposed to merely attend or spectate – God has given everyone something specific to do. As it says in Scripture, “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (1 Corinthians 12:18) and “each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). Every Christian has a role to play, and this includes young people.
Unfortunately, many Christians feel like spare parts. They think they don’t have any significant contribution to make to the greater church. This problem is especially prominent among teens and Millennials, and I’m sure it’s a big contributing factor to why many young people are unfaithful to their church.
A Personal Perspective
When I was a teenager (which wasn’t that long ago), I felt like the expectations for me as a Christian were very low. I got the sense that others in the church didn’t expect much from me and, consequently, I didn’t expect much of myself. It was “enough” for me to just attend the youth group, worship services and church events regularly.
Looking back and as a co-youth leader now, one issue in particular has stood out to me: the lack of opportunities for Christian youth to use their spiritual gifts for the church. When I talk with the youth group about their gifts and having a specific role in the church, this is often a wall I bump into. Action items for them are often ambiguous or require a huge amount of initiative on their part – perhaps more initiative than is reasonable for their age.
Here are a couple observations I have made concerning this issue:
- There are comparatively few clear-cut positions in church available to young people. Roles like elders, deacons, deaconesses, pastors, Sunday school teachers and childcare workers are typically reserved for older adults. It wasn’t till I was close to 18 years old that I really started to take on specific roles.
- Our words reflect a damaging perception. We say things like “After you graduate from the youth group and join the greater church …” implying that Christian youths aren’t yet part of the “greater church.” When I hear people say, “The youth are the future of our church” I can’t help but think, “Aren’t they the church right now?”
Involving Young Members of the Church
It can be very difficult for Christian youth to get involved in church. The institutional structure of local churches and the general perspective of their members often contributes to this. Many churches simply don’t want the stark change that would inevitably come from accommodating Christian teens.1
I’m not saying that changes to church structures are good or that prominent leadership positions should be more available to young people. However, I am saying that these traditions can make it difficult for young Christians to use their spiritual gifts in the context of the local church. It also sends the false message that Christians must reach a certain age before they become a functioning member of the body of Christ. Churches may say they’d love to have young people involved, but their actions and traditions are often contradictory.
With this in mind, the following statistics from Barna Group 2 shouldn’t come as a surprise:
- 66% of all Millennials think that churches are hypocritical.
- 44% of all Millennials say that church feels too much like an exclusive club.
Barna also found that, of Millennials who are not actively involved in church:
- 35% claim that it’s irrelevant to them.
- 31% say it’s boring.
- 8% believe churches are out of date.
So, how would a website help?
When your church invests in a website, it helps change these perceptions. Not only does a church website show that the church cares about young people and their culture, but it creates an opportunity for young people to have a significant responsibility in the church.
When it comes to technology, the default mindset is “leave it to the young folks.” And with technology becoming more and more important to churches, it’s the perfect inroad for young people to get involved. That’s where I started and quickly found my niche in the church.
A church website is something that can be specifically for young people, employing their spiritual gifts and talents and involving them in ministry.
Before I close …
I don’t want it to sound like every church is bursting at the seams with ill-disposed ephebiphobes. I’m really thankful for my Dulin’s Grove Church family – they invested a lot of time, energy and resources in me as a youth. They poured into me so that, when the time came, I was able to pour back into them. The older I get, the more I realize just how much sacrificial love they showed me.
If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to start a discussion below!