Have you ever thought that ownership and talents go together? Perhaps the teens in your youth group are just looking for a place to use their talents. And I wonder, could talents be a key to their faith?
If your youth group is anything like mine, you’ve got a hodge-podge of teens with various gifts, talents, and skills. My group currently has one extremely talented athlete whose goal is to try out for every sport her school offers before high school. We have a few musicians in our group – many of them active in their school orchestras. One of our middle school boys loves to dance and isn’t shy about doing so every time a song comes on with a decent beat.
We also have an aspiring chef in our group! He’s currently enrolled in the culinary program at the local community technical college. He wants to go to culinary school after graduation and open his own restaurant.
Considering Our Purpose And Their Talents
Now bear with me for just a moment…
My goal as Youth Minister is to introduce my teens to the gospel. It is my desire to share with them the love of Jesus Christ and to equip them to do the same for others.
That said, it is also my goal to help develop them as young people. It is my goal to support them and encourage them in their individual endeavors. It is my goal to speak affirmation into their lives as they pursue their interests and passions. Giving teens an avenue to explore their gifts, within the scope of the church and ministry, is a great way to help cultivate their spirituality.
Young people will learn through experience, what their faith is about, how to express it, and ways to grow in their faith.
If I can encourage them to display their talents within the church setting, a young person who feels jaded toward the church may find their heart opening to God in a new and real way. Not only does this give the teens an avenue of expression, but it also allows them to feel invested and valued within the church family – to experience God in a way they may never have before.
Allowing teens to use their talents helps develop them as individuals and helps them learn what worship means. It helps them experience worship in outside-the-box ways, perhaps bringing them to the realization that worship does not just have to look one certain way.
So what are some ways we can open avenues for young people to use their talents within our ministries?
3 Avenues For Young People To Use Their Talents
Most of us have led Sunday morning worship with our teens at least once. This is a prime time to showcase our young people, to allow them to help lead worship in intimate and personal ways.
Maybe you have some musicians who can step up and lead the congregation in song. Perhaps the thespians in your group would step out and lead worship with a skit. Maybe that middle school boy who loves to dance can do a freestyle interpretive dance during the offertory!
Giving our teens this kind of outlet helps them to experience worship in new and personal ways. It allows them to take some ownership of how they express their adoration for God.
While youth Sunday seems to be a once-a-year occurrence, youth group happens at least once a week for most of us. Allowing young people to assume leadership of a youth group meeting (maybe even just once a month) is a great avenue for them to use their talents and gifts. Maybe they can write their own prayer, share their testimony, or write a devotion and share it with the group.
The musicians in your group can lead weekly worship for your meetings. Maybe you have a teen gifted in teaching. Allowing them to teach a lesson or preach could boost their confidence immensely!
What about the chef in your group? Why not let him fix a meal for the group! Instead of recruiting an adult from the congregation to supply tacos for your group, help the young chef create a menu and prepare a meal for your group once a month. This allows them to develop their skills, but it also allows you, as the leader, to show just how much you appreciate them.
Encouraging your teens to serve the community can be challenging. Focusing on the things that drive your teen will also drive their desire to serve.
That young chef in your group could help organize a community meal! Maybe the dancers and musicians in your group could lead a community workshop for kids – teaching the dances and songs of worship!
Perhaps, as the pandemic ends and facilities open, you can take those skills to a local nursing home. The athletes in your group could become coaches for community leagues. Upward is a great example of incorporating athletic skills, sportsmanship, and faith. They could even get plugged into their school’s FCA program and share their faith journey with others.
The key to engaging teens is to first learn what drives them and then tapping into those passions for the ministry. Teens will take ownership of a program and their faith when they feel they have something to offer. And they have so much to offer!
Sarah Taylor has been the youth director at Gulf Cove United Methodist Church in Port Charlotte, Florida, since 2017. She has a Master’s Degree in Youth Ministry from Wesley Seminary as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She loves books and writing, has a borderline obsession with Harry Potter and Gilmore Girls, and loves Cherry Pepsi. She lives in North Port, Florida, with her 14-year-old cat, Milo.