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Embracing Youth Engagement in Church

by | Wed, Feb 28 2024

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Many churches face a significant challenge in reaching the younger generation. Not all of them can budget for a youth minister, yet they must have a strategy to resource, support, and increase the engagement of young people as disciples within the church.

How can we, as Christians, address the challenges in youth ministry and lay the groundwork for a new generation? Reverend Doctor Graham Stanton is a lecturer in Practical Theology and Director of the Ridley Centre for Children’s and Youth Ministry in Melbourne.

Graham is also one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming Amplify Conference, happening on the 2nd of March. Amplify is Australia’s largest children, youth and family ministry conference.

Engaging the Younger Generation

Graham recently joined us on 20Twenty to share his thoughts on the challenges facing the church in engaging the younger generation, and why young people are disconnecting at such an alarming rate.

‘Just the simple connection with children and young people is part of our privilege and joy,’ says Graham. ‘We get to hand these wonderful things on to the next generation.’

However, Graham believes the church doesn’t always value what children and young people can bring. ‘We see them perhaps as a bit of a burden,’ he says. ‘Or something necessary for the long-term survival of the church. But actually, it’s the blessing and the privilege of being God’s people together.’

Ministry Includes Everyone

In Mark Chapter 10, Jesus tells us, no one who has left home, or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.

‘How do you how do you gain a hundred mothers if you’ve lost a relationship with your own mother for the sake of Christ?’ says Graham. ‘The answer is, you become a member of the church. You come to church where a whole bunch of women become mother figures for you.’

Graham believes that family ministry includes everyone. All of us are brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, or spiritual mothers and fathers. ‘That’s the blessing we have to extend to one another. I want us to lean into that idea because it’s really important to a young person’s sense of belonging.’

‘Young people are actually looking for connection with adults. They’re looking for connection with people who are interested in them and whose experience of life brings something which is different.’

Listen to Grahams full interview on 20Twenty below: