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.


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

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