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Q&A: What to do for a “Youth Sunday”

NOTE: I hope you guys enjoy Q&As here at Life In Student Ministry because I’ve had a backlog of them queued up for a while. I’m going to publish a lot of them this week and next before the answers are irrelevant to the people who originally asked.

Jeremy Zach emailed me and asked, “Have ya’ll ever done a youth Sunday? Basically where the students lead the church service. If you have, what key ingredients are essential to make this Sunday work? Any recommendations?”

I actually think Youth Sundays are a really bad idea. In my opinion, every Sunday should be a “youth Sunday.” I don’t like what youth Sunday unintentionally communicates to kids: “This is your Sunday. The other Sundays are not so much for you.”

We don’t have youth Sundays. Instead, I make sure teens play significant roles in church every Sunday. I want them to feel like they have significant ownership and responsibility in the body here every week. Fortunately, our church is very good about using teens in services every week and integrates them into the life of the body pretty well, but I realize not every church is like that.

Here are some easy ways your teens can get involved every Sunday:

  • Leading worship
  • Leading a time of prayer
  • Ushering
  • Passing offering plates
  • Sharing testimonies of how God is working in their life
  • Leading a “children’s sermon” or even the “adult sermon”
  • Running lights and sound
  • Engaging visitors before and after service
  • Serve communion
  • Dramas/skits that illustrate the sermon
  • Dance (depending on your denomination!)
  • Pray with the pastor(s) before each service

Help teenagers take ownership of the church outside of services, too. Some ideas:

  • Maintaining a church website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Flickr photo albums
  • Participate in the decision-making process in board meetings (seriously!)
  • Visiting shut-ins and making hospital visits
  • Teach children Sunday school classes
  • Lead a workshop for adults on things like Facebook and txt messaging
  • Leading small group discussions among their peers in youth group
  • Pray for prayer requests that are submitted during services

Other responses

I asked on Twitter for people to give me their ideas for how they integrate teens into both the church body and church services. Here’s some of the feedback I received.

“Communion assistants, Worship leaders, Greeters, Acolytes, Help with Family Service Groups, Allow them the ability to lead Everyday services, Pray with the pastor, ect… lots of ideas!” — via Jeremy Hallquist in Facebook

“worship team, video/computer/sound, children’s ministry, cafe, welcome, greeter, usher, list goes on and on…” via Kevin Twombly in Twitter

“we only do multi-gen missions, teens are on worship team, serve in children’s min, etc…” via Chris Szulwach in Twitter

“For the tech geeks – I’ve plugged them into the sound/video team for church services. I’ve also plugged them into being door greeters for church services. It gets them plugged into the church and if families with teens come for a visit they can introduce themselves and help the visiting teen feel more comfortable. I’ve also done something we called ministry shadow. In short have your students shadow someone for a day that serves in a ministry within your church.” via Brian Ford in an email.

“getting them on committees if the church has them.” via Russ Bowin in Twitter

“We have our youth read scripture and usher on the 3rd sunday of the month.” via Nicole Cox in Twitter

“help in nursery, be a Sunday School teachers aide for younger kids” via June Camizzi in Facebook

Give your input

Do you have “Youth Sundays?” Why or why not? What would you recommend for Jeremy? Drop a note in the comments below.

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Have a youth ministry question you’d like me and other readers to answer? E-mail it to me! Please keep your question brief and to-the-point. Thanks!


Posted on September 23, 2008

  • http://www.forkintheroadmusic.org russell martin

    I think every Sunday should be youth sunday and have them involved as much as possible. But as a youth director for many years we did youth led morning worship services. We have used those who can play instruments as music for preludes and offering, had youth create videos, use youth in skits and plays, have them in various roles of reading scripture and liturgy. They ran technical equiptment for sound and screens, (which for us now is mostly youth anyway). We have even had some great messages from the youth. My encouragement though is even if you have one Sunday designated as “Youth Sunday” use that as a launching point for those youth to become more involved in the worship ministries of the church on a regular basis.

  • http://jeremyzach.wordpress.com/ jeremy z

    i couldn’t agree with you more. however i think establishing youth sunday is a great kick start to getting kids more involved on a week to week basis.

    i actually have developed a five year plan on how to get kids assimilate into BIG church. i think having a youth sunday will make our adults aware of the student’s capabilities.

  • GiGi

    Agreed. We haven’t had a youth Sunday since I’ve been here, but when I was an episcopal youth (1997-2002) we had Youth Sunday and it was pretty simple as to what the youth did:
    1 or 2 did the sermon (perhaps with intro and closure done by youth leader)
    chalice bearers
    ushers
    acolytes
    readers/prayers of the people
    pretty much everything that could be done by non-clergy

    It was really neat, and they all wore street clothes instead of dressing up or wearing robes. Youth could do music with a band or at least choose the hymns. Let them design the service. Re-write the prayers that they say every week so that it’s meaningful and relevant to them. Just a thought!

  • http://www.florencechurch.com Ahren Cahoon

    Last month I decided to let our congregation in on our of our Youth Groups meetings called Fusion, on a Sunday morning. We began by decorating the Celebration Center with our Fusion banners, and video components. We tweaked the traditional Meet & Greet with a get to know you mixer. Students who are normally a part of the worship team, lead w/ our Worship Pastor. We even used a video series our students created for Fusion on Sunday (Youtube – Jesus Cops)
    Then in the message time, I shared a message that was more to the flavor of they way I deliver to students, including solid Bible teaching, life illustrations, and object lessons. Geared to teach and challenge adults, but with the rhythm of a Fusion message.
    The Sunday was well revieved and appreciated by a large majority who are not there for our youth group meetings.

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