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Wanted: Youth Leaders!

by Shanna Crumley

Ever thought of yourself as a youth leader? You should!

 January is the dreariest and most boring month. The Christmas season is over but spring still looms in the distant future. Every year I attended academy, prayer conference came to the rescue the last week of January.

Sixty-five students would squeeze into the bus for a daylong drive to Camp Kulaqua to enjoy Florida sunshine, four days of exciting meetings, and new friends. My senior year I got a chance to be a student leader at prayer conference.
We student leaders met in the evenings to pray for God to work through us and to use us to touch our 400 peers attending the conference when we led the small discussion groups. Because we were the same age as they were, our small group members felt comfortable enough to talk to my coleader, Mark, and me about the issues they were facing at home, at school, and at church.
Mark and I got the chance to see our group members open up and learn about the depth of prayer. One student even made a decision for baptism. At that prayer conference I saw that God could use an ordinary 17-year-old to do His work in the church.
Back at school the week after prayer conference, we all felt God’s power in action as we academy students shared God’s love. That’s when I realized that ministry can be more effective when we, the youth, get involved.
Too often the trend among the youth in the church is to passively let the older members organize and lead the youth while we watch and criticize. We make assumptions: “They’re too old; they don’t understand us” or “Those are ridiculous ideas.” These thoughts turn into a mentality that the old people are the church and the young people are children to be seen and not heard. But that’s not true! We have a place in the church, too. God needs every one of His children to chip in and help the body of Christ as a part of the church family.
You’ve heard it before: “Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders.” The millions of students in church schools and Sabbath school classes worldwide today are the future pastors, elders, deacons, Pathfinders leaders, and church school teachers. But take it one step further: the training for those positions begins today.
The only way for us to become tomorrow’s church leaders is to step up in our churches and learn how to lead, follow, and work together.
Where to begin
A great place to start serving your church is in your youth group. Have you ever noticed how it’s always the same three or four kids leading out each week?
That’s great, but four people can’t make the whole church function. Try volunteering to be a greeter at the door or help out with song service or the sound system.
My brother doesn’t like getting up in front of people, but he enjoys running the audio/visual systems in his youth group, with which he serves God from the sound booth. There’s a place for everyone to use their spiritual gifts, from the pulpit to the kitchen!
You can even venture outside of your youth room and help out in the children’s classes or in the church service. Teaching little kids the Bible stories not only gives you teaching experience, it also gives them a good role model. In the sanctuary help pass out bulletins or read Scripture. The church family loves to see young people taking part in the service and showing an interest in church affairs.
My senior year in academy I helped conduct evangelistic meetings while on a mission trip to Cuba. In one church I learned that the youth group stayed active by going on outings and participating in church services every week. When they heard my preaching partner and me speak, the teens told me that they were so inspired by our service that they wanted to do something like it!
I kept in touch with one of my translators, and she told me that the youth group recently conducted its own evangelism series! This group had a passion for the ministry; they just needed ideas. Here in North America, we have the resources and ideas, but we need to match my Cuban friends’ enthusiasm.
Let’s put our talents and ideas to use! Our generation has some awesome tools in our hands: perspective and passion. Young people have a different angle of looking at the world than adults. The church needs this fresh outlook for growth and for connecting with our generation. Now is the time to learn how to be a part of God’s church family by contributing our talents to our church and making a positive impact for Christ.
Shanna Crumley is a college sophomore with dreams of living abroad and discovering God’s dreams for her future. She loves southern thunderstorms, taking pictures, cooking Thai curry with her friends, listening to (and performing) a variety of music, and sipping peppermint tea while reading and writing.

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