Get the support of your church for what you do – we’re in it together, don’t go it alone! Unless you really feel this is so important that God is calling you to really step out in faith. It is harder without a church or other people supporting you. Just tread wisely but don’t be held back if God has called you.
To do something successfully in church life, it’s important to get the support of the church, right from the top down, or bottom up – whatever. I am in favour of youth congregations, youth services etc. but I recognise that God has called his people together as one body, called the church, with different gifts and skills (1 Corinthians 12). To carry something out in church life you need to utilize those different gifts and skills. That’s why God has put people where they are. I realise it can be hard and frustrating but try! God will honour your commitment
Loads of ways! Meet with the pastor and get his/her support. Meet the church leadership – separately if you can. Talk to the youth leaders, children’s leaders and house group leaders to get their support and prayers. Stand up on a Sunday and tell people in church about it. Share your vision with the various groups around the church. Put articles in Sunday bulletins, your church or parish magazine. Get young people to share in the idea by brainstorming it, praying about it, discussing it. Do reviews after the event.
What If People Don’t Support Me?
This can be very tough. I have faced criticism in various ways for several events we have run – from within the team, within the church and within the city. It’s good to really know that you are doing what God has called you to do. If this is the case then it makes it easier to face criticism. You need to judge when to respond and when you are being distracted and therefore choosing not to respond.
But if you don’t have support from the leadership, that is tricky. I know of one event where the church leader wasn’t convinced about a young adult giving the talk because they weren’t in the training programme. There will always be a clash where you pioneer and come up against church ideas (especially ones done for historically good reasons but no longer relevant). You may need to politely point this out and encourage people to think of young people ahead of burdensome rules. But equally a church that opposes what you do should make you think about whether it’s worth doing the event. We should all be under authority in the right way – but not under control. If a church does not want to support and empower young people, the church needs to take a hard look at itself.
If you communicate and keep people informed it makes a tremendous difference. If people in your church feel they own it and are part of it they will respond more than if they feel it’s you just going it alone. In his ministry, Paul the Apostle got churches to pray for him and support him (see 2 Corinthians 9 for example). Keep people involved. Your faith and that of the young people, new vision or the thought of the gospel being preached to young people may well inspire others to support you and go more for God in their own lives! (see 1 Timothy 4.12)
Bring people together from other churches. If you work as part of a city or area-wide youth team, talk to them, involve them. At the very least get them on board to support what you’re doing. For the last event I did, we had people praying for it, we went to the area the day before and prayer walked, I worked with the local Christian bus team, worked with the local church action group, I kept people informed at every stage, phoned people up to check we were all cool, practiced, got words, lyrics, music, CDs out to people and so on.. We got flyers into schools, to young people on the streets, groups, spread the word.. In all this we took on board people’s ideas and have tried to value them as much as possible – we’re very grateful to have worked as a team!
See it may be done by you, but it affects others. Get informed, see what’s going on, use people’s skills. If you don’t work with others directly involving them, that’s no worries. But just keep people informed, on-board and praying. Not just your church but other churches, especially those who may be affected by what you do.. what about follow-up if you don’t do an event in your area.. you need others and they need you – 1 Corinthians 13.
For one event we involved the local church (who were staging the event). The Pastor from that church was in contact with other local churches (including my church). We also worked with a local evangelist. The Christian schools team who work in the local high school were also involved!
For another event we invited local church leaders to our planning meeting, prepared leaflets explaining about Revelation (the event). We also had individuals attend the church leader meetings to keep them informed about what was going on. Every time this gets bigger and more effective, we pray it will help further unite the churches in our city. What about you and your city?
We also do detached work in the area with the local church or ministry so that we support them and they act as the contact for on-going work with any young people that become Christians or want to know more. We are also tying in our event with discipleship/Alpha courses in schools and hope to take the event into local schools, work there for the week and then put on the event on a Friday night – with alpha type stuff starting the week after the events and strong links into local churches.