Here are five very small gestures that will make a huge difference to the youth of the church.
Praying for Them and Before Them
I believe it’s biblical to give thanks for all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18), including people. This is the will of God. So why not pray for these young men and women and mention them by name when they are there with you and they are all together? Then pray for them when you’re not with them that they would resist temptations and live godly lives. I pray that for myself! Tell them you pray for them, but mean it. Knowing you care enough to take the time to pray for them by name might make a big difference.
Be a Participant
I found out when I taught Sunday school for 3rd and 4th grades combined that it’s actually fun to participate with them in the planned youth activities. We went to a local park one day and picked up all the trash we could find. We had gloves and trash bags with us; and when we came back, they had such a great feeling inside knowing that they had been good stewards of the earth, which is pleasing to God. Car washes are hilarious; pet washes even more so. We never laughed so hard. So have fun; it’s contagious. You’ll bond with these young people.
Remember Their Names
When I started Sunday school, I used name tags. These were labels that they could stick on their shirts or dresses and learn everyone’s name. I had one too. I even placed names on the desks where the lessons were done. But I also changed the order so they could get to know the other students. It seemed to work better that way, and many made new friends. My point is, when we say “hello Daniel” or “good morning Teresa,” we connect with them much better than using impersonal, none-name greetings like “good morning” or “hello.”
Be an Encourager
To encourage someone essentially means to give someone courage. It might fortify their courage or embolden them to do something great like launch a ministry, minister to shut-ins, and so on. Who knows what one simple word of encouragement might do. When Jesus rebuked the churches in the Book of Revelation, He started by giving them an encouraging word first. He doesn’t start with His rebuke, even though that’s done in love. He begins by encouraging the Ephesus church: “I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary” (Revelation 2:3).
Ask for Their Help
When children are young, they really like to help around the house. When they get older, it seems that this type of behavior fades away, but it doesn’t have to. If you ask these young men and women for help in the preparation of youth activities, making posters, collecting donations, or whatever else it is, the youth are more likely to buy into the whole youth ministry curriculum.
If you want to make a big difference with little or no effort, then pray for them on a consistent basis, get involved in their activities, get to know them and call them by name, give them a steady diet of encouragement because the world’s a very negative place. Finally, it’s okay to ask them for help. Who knows–they might have been waiting for you to ask. These very small gestures can make a big difference in their lives, and that’s what it’s all about in youth ministry.