6 Ways to Help Teens Serve in Their Local Church

Published: Sep 18, 2023
6 Ways to Help Teens Serve in Their Local Church

By giving them simple suggestions and allowing them to see the bigger picture outside of themselves, teens not only make a difference in the world but also fulfill their need for significance and importance.

It’s no secret many kids leave the church when they become adults. Church research suggests that Millennials are leaving the church in droves. The best way to get kids engaged in church is to allow them to serve. Yet, the current church model is not only set up for teens to have a small–and sometimes no–place in the Sunday service. My kids grew up in church. My son went with my husband early to church each week to set up chairs and fix things in the church. Both my kids grew up serving in church, and it has helped them foster their relationship with Jesus as adults. 

Church services are often reserved for adults, but with a little creativity and determination, we can help teens become a pivotal part of the Sunday service. 

Here are some ways we can encourage kids to serve:

1. Create a Teens’ Worship Team

Teens can sing songs for worship. This would require a worship leader or a pastor to teach the kids to play a certain set of songs. To avoid a time crunch, help the kids learn five songs they really enjoy practicing each week until their time for Sunday service comes. While it’s good for them to be well practiced, resist the urge to push for perfection in order for the teens to continue being a part of the leadership process. Kids can develop low self-esteem when constantly told they are not good for the team. Kids can surprise us and sometimes they may be as good (and sometimes even better) than their adult worship team counterparts. 

2. Make Them Greeters

Many churches have a set of greeters as part of a welcoming committee to welcome not only existing members but new visitors into the church. To make the welcoming team more intergenerational, allow the teens to greet people as they walk in the door. This will help increase communication skills with people they wouldn't normally interact with on a regular basis. Newcomers may like to see that people of all generations welcome them into the service. If teens are excited to be at church, more than likely, people will want to stay because they know they might like it too. People, particularly the elderly, might enjoy seeing teens welcome them into the church doors. As a pastor’s wife for twenty-two years, we have always had churches where the elderly have “adopted” my children because their grandkids lived far away. They adopted my children as their grandkids. They often dropped by with treats or special gifts. My children learned to love the older generation. This also helped the welcome team encourage and serve the older generation. This task normally defaults to the pastor to run most of the activities. But when teens head up a welcome team, this doesn't always have to be the case. 

3. Let the Kids Run the Youth Service

Once a quarter (or once a month), ask the pastor to allow the kids to run the service. You can train the teens to do a devotional or even the full lesson during the youth meeting. Encourage older teens to lead the younger teens in small group discussion sessions or have another team set up (or at least choose) the game or activity for that evening. This is not only helpful to the staff but also lets teens help staff to get their creative juices flowing when they suggest activities people hadn’t thought of previously. 

4. Let the Kids Run the Adult Service

If your pastor is ambitious, let the teens run a Sunday service. While the pastor may have to approve something like this, let the teens run the service once a quarter. Without preaching the message, have the kids give announcements, hand out bulletins, greet people, do the worship, and act as a prayer team for anyone who needs prayer at the end of the service. Kids will feel they have a specific place and purpose within the church body as well as the Sunday church service. This increases the chances that when they get to be adults, they will feel like they have a place in their existing church or go to another church and have a place where they can have a purpose. Congregation members enjoy having the kids take part in the service. Although not everyone may agree with this, it does help involve the teens so they can feel like they are part of God's family. 

5. Organize a Youth Trip

Younger generations love knowing they're making an impact and a difference in their world. There is no better way for a church to make an impact on the world around them than by engaging in a missions trip. Missions trips can take on many shapes and forms. Even if your church cannot afford to go on a week-long trip or go far away, the church can easily teach kids that the mission field can be right outside their doors. Some churches have connections with other non-profit organizations that seek to help the poor and disenfranchised within the community. Rent a church van and have a group of teens along with adult chaperones do what they can to help either in their local community or even a country where they can help those in need. It helps them not to focus only on themselves but rather see the world from a different perspective. It can be an eye-opening and gut-wrenching experience to see how other people live in third-world countries or even in the United States in areas where poverty abounds. Kids will instantly realize how privileged they are with the opportunities they have when they help someone in need. Allow kids to even pick the area and make it a regular activity so that kids can correlate that missions is not a one-time event but rather something they can engage in on a regular basis. Acts 1:8 says “…and you will be my witnesses through Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” Help them know how to identify their Judea as their local community, the Samaria as an area in a different state, and the ends of the earth by embarking on missions both near and abroad. 

6. Organize a Youth Missions Team

Take your teens’ involvement one step further. if there is no missions team that exists in your church, create one. Allow them to choose causes that are near and dear to their hearts so that they can feel like they're making a real difference and further their favorite causes. You can organize outings to food pantries and local shelters to give food and help the homeless. They can also collect money at each youth group meeting and at the end of the year, choose one organization to donate those funds. It'll be fun to watch the kids take part in the larger world around them. 

It's easy for kids to become egocentric and selfish in their thinking. By organizing a youth missions team not only do they think outside the realm of their own existence, but also make a difference, whether it's people that are down the street, in their neighborhood, or in a third-world country who could desperately need their help. Christ promised that the poor will always be among us, and there will always be opportunities for them to serve. By allowing them to choose their cause as a group, they can start to think about causes outside of themselves. You may be surprised to find that there are some teens who care desperately about certain sections of people but don't know how to change the world. By giving them simple suggestions and allowing them to see the bigger picture outside of themselves, teens not only make a difference in the world but also fulfill their need for significance and importance. 

The youth are sometimes one of the most overlooked populations in a church body. Yet, teens are the people we want to train up so that the next generation keeps the church alive. By allowing kids to take part not only in the Sunday service but also in activities that will help broaden their perspectives and practice humility and love, not only will the church prepare them for the future, but it will allow them to meet their needs for significance and importance. 

Photo Credit: ©acroblund

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.