WHEN I WAS 12 YEARS OLD, some church members included me in their conversations with my parents. With welcoming smiles, they looked me in the eye, asked or said my name, and talked to me.
I felt important.
My earliteen Sabbath School class was asked to plan weekly Sabbath vesper programs.
I felt needed.
A year later, we were asked to organize the adult Sabbath School program once a month. While this idea was risky, the members realized that kids need to be involved.
I felt valued.
When we moved to another city and a much larger church, I got lost in the crowd. So I joined the other teens in the back row talking and giggling.
I was disconnected.
A while later, a school leader asked me to coordinate the Sabbath afternoon academy outreach programs. I had never attended the outreach activities, nor am I sure that
they even had any going on before I became involved.
I became a passionate follower of Jesus.
As a young adult, my friend and her friends offered to help with church programs by playing the piano, taking up the offering, being greeters, helping with the worship service—
anything that was needed. No one got them involved.
She and her friends left church.
Do you know a young person who doesn’t want to come to church? Ask them what their interests are, and then find how best to fit those interests with the needs of the church.
Give them assignments—to run the sound system, read the Scripture passage for worship service, take up the offering, play the piano, or sing on the worship team for church. Make them deacons and deaconesses under strong mentors. Add young people to the church board.
They will become an integral part of your church, look forward to Sabbath, and become leaders for God.
My son learned this lesson firsthand. After joining a youth evangelism team, he said, “I have tried everything to find real joy and happiness. I never found it until now. This is real joy, working to help young people to know Jesus!”
Teens are hungry for acceptance and belonging. Pray earnestly for your youth. Ask each young person what they like to do and how they want to be a part of the church family. Put them into positions of responsibility with reliable, Christ-like mentors.
In the parable in Matthew 20 about workers in the vineyard, the eleventh hour workers were asked why they were just standing around. They said, “Because no one has hired us”
(Matthew 20:7a, NRSV). Our youth are willing and able, but they haven’t been asked! Will you help your church youth find their place in God’s vineyard? Not only will it bless others, but it will also bring that young person into a closer walk with the vineyard Owner.