By Steven Ackley
Many churches vocalize frustrations that few young adults participate and serve in the life of their church. But, if you’re not willing to train and place young adults in significant places of service, you can almost guarantee that they will not show up. And if they do, they won’t stick.
One of the best ways to combat this disengagement is to have a well developed plan to equip and train young adults to serve in the ministries of your church. Here are six ways to do just that.
1. Onboard volunteers well.
This is especially true for young adults who may have never served in the church. For many churches, there is some taboo around students or even kids serving in their church. As a result, many young adults first experience opportunities to serve the church during this season of life. We must have a helpful, clear, and involved onboarding process for new volunteers and leaders.
2. Make the preparation process for serving consistent.
Now, in light of the first point, it may seem unnecessary to strategically onboard young adults who have previously served in the church. But it is essential that we make the preparation process for serving consistent for everyone. What this does is level the playing field for those of different generations and backgrounds and raises the expectations of all who serve. This preparation should also be consistent in different ministry areas.
3. Provide regular training.
If you’ve ever played a sport or prepared for a race or physical challenge, you understand the importance of regular training. The same is true in preparing young adults to serve in the church. We must be intentional about training them, but not just initially. Regularly scheduled and easily accessible training must be provided for all who serve in your church.
4. Provide shadowing opportunities.
“Do as I say, not as I do” is a saying that many parents and church leaders alike have operated by for years. We’ve taught people that they ought to do certain things and act certain ways without setting an example that demonstrates the things we hope to see from them. An easy solution to this issue is shadowing. Invite young adults to come alongside and learn to serve by observing and attempting leadership in different ministry areas. Shadowing can be helpful in preparing people to effectively and faithfully serve in the local church.
5. Give young adults access to other faithful leaders.
It’s highly uncommon to find a rag tag, living off of ramen, torn jeans young adult outside of the offices of church leaders. But access to leaders in the church is something that is often desired among young adults. Giving them this type of access to learn and journey beside church and ministry leaders can help develop and train them for service in the church.
6. Give young adults leadership opportunities.
A final way to train young adults to serve in the local church is to provide leadership opportunities. It is crucial that we willingly consider how to grow access of key leadership roles to young adults, both in staff and lay capacities. This is risky, but, if we train well, it will increase the pipeline of volunteers and leaders that serve in our churches.
In the face of frustrations that young adults seem absent from our churches, it is worthwhile to consider how we are developing and placing them in service and leadership roles. We must then be purposeful in training them for faithful service. This will allows us to more effectively reach, develop, and deploy young adults for the mission of God and the growth of the local church.
Steven Ackley, his wife Emily, and their four kids live out their love for anything sports and Cookout milkshakes in Murfreesboro, TN where Steven serves as the NextGen and College Pastor at LifePoint Church. Steven holds a D.Min. and an MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.