I recently attended a meeting for local youth pastors. All we did was discuss the question, “How do you mobilize and equip students to go share the gospel?” The only answer which came to mind initially was, “I treat them like adults.” I don’t have any clever programs or gimmicks to convince students to go live on a mission.
The only thing I can think of that I do which I think is unique is that I try to treat them like adults. I preach to them like they’re adults. I ignore all high school curriculum and only look to material written for adults. I program as if they were adults. I talk to them the way I talk to adults. I expect them to act like adults.
When you treat them like adults, they start acting like adults. When I saw they’re acting like adults, I mean they volunteer to serve, step into leadership, and take responsibility for their spiritual growth. This looks different for 16 year old than it does for a 45 year old.
When I made a shift in how I was running our high school ministry, literally with in a month a group of students started showing up to help me setup. I didn’t even have to ask.
Treat them like adults and you may lose a bunch of apathetic and disinterested kids who just want entertainment (more on this tomorrow), but you’ll be left with a group willing to reach out.