Read / Feature

Growing Younger: Where to start?

Multiplying a younger church is a journey that starts with small steps, but finding the right ones can feel so difficult that we end up not stepping out. Ali Campbell shares nine practical things we can do that, applied consistently, will start to add up to progress.

1. Put it on the agenda of every PCC meeting
Don’t let a single leadership meeting or PCC gathering slip by without having “young people” on the agenda. 

2. Pray
Every time your church meets to pray, make sure that you are praying for young people.

3. Visit the youth group
If you have a youth group, visit it! Just turn up as one of the team to serve. Run the tuck shop, battle young people on the table tennis table. Building rapport with young people helps you, as the church leader, get to know them. It’s also an encouragement and support to your youth team.

4. Support parents
Remember that the most important place that faith is formed is at home. So remember to pray for them, encourage them and look for ways to support them.

5. Bless the schools
It can be tricky trying to connect with schools from scratch, but make a point of visiting and introducing yourself. Rather than offer a list of what you could do (assemblies or lunch time clubs) start with a question, ‘How can we bless you? What do you need?’ Right now, support around mental health and places of worship to visit are often needed in schools.

6. Preach inclusively
When arriving at the ‘how to apply this’ section of your preach, you might want to say something like, ‘What does this mean for you on Monday morning?’ If young people are present, include, ‘What does this look like at school / college?’ ‘What does this look like when you are having a chat whilst online gaming?’ Consider the world of those listening. If children aren’t present, ensure you are encouraging parents to think about how this applies in their home, ‘What does this look like in front of your kids?’.

7. Make space for their voice
Ask young people what they think. Think about how they can feed into decision making on the PCC or leadership team. A key to growing younger is giving young people a place of significance in the life of the church. Make sure you act on what they bring. It can be challenging, but it helps create ownership for them as part of the intergenerational community.

8. Invest in your volunteers
One way of changing your relationship with young people is to invest in their leaders. Ensure your team has training, support and supervision where needed. The more the team is invested in, the greater their confidence and commitment. Say thank you publicly – why not celebrate their gift of service with an annual team BBQ?

9. Celebrate milestones
Whether it is Year Six finishing their SATS or Year 11 their GCSEs, young adults heading off to university or into the world of work – celebrate them, not just what they have accomplished, but who they are as they move on to the next thing. Pay attention to transitions and make these as smooth as possible.

For more ideas and additional resources to support you with any of the above, get in touch with Ali Campbell, Youth and Children’s Ministry Consultant at The Resource and Founder of Paraklesis – The Association of Children’s, Youth and Family Ministers.

This article was printed in Multiply 2024: The Manual, a publication that accompanied the programme of Multiply 2024, which explored multiplying a younger church. You can find related content below.