TIPS FOR THE LOCAL YOUTH SERVICE
By Margie Edwards
KNOW THE PURPOSE
Before we plan a youth service we must fully understand the true purpose of a young people’s service.
The YOUTH SERVICE, though bible-centered and Christ-honoring, is not simply a Sunday school class. Neither is it a “preaching service” beamed primarily to young people. It is an entirely different sort of gathering which meets needs in the lives of young people that neither the Sunday school class nor the evangelistic service is designed to meet.
First, it is for SPIRITUALITY. We need spirituality and more spirituality for our youth. Regardless of the type of program planned, there should always be a time of real Holy Ghost worship that has been prayed down before coming to service, will inspire, strengthen, encourage, and melt the hearts of every young person present.
Second, it is for EXPRESSION. In the Sunday school classroom and in church, young people “take in” with little opportunity to “give out.” The emphasis is on “learning.” In the young people’s service the emphasis is on “doing.” That is why we should plan our programs to be youth-centered and not sponsor-centered. It is a recognized fact that the youth leader is the key to a successful youth program. But if we are not careful the youth leader, and a few others, will be the only ones who will be trained. Involve all young people in your services.
Third, it is for TRAINING. Many a consecrated song leader or choir director in the church today got his start in the young people’s service. Many of our preachers received their call to the ministry as they delivered a stumbling message through trembling lips in their own youth group. It is for training in prayer, in soul-winning, in learning to work with others, in finding one’s place in the church, and in making consecrations to the lord.
Fourth, it is for SERVICE. In the youth service, and any related activities in the youth program, young people are provided opportunities to serve the lord. In helping to prepare a meeting, in calling on delinquent members, in singing a song, in visiting shut-ins, or in any way taking part in the overall youth work. . .the youth program unlocks the door for every young person to feel that he has a part in the kingdom of god and his church. Each service rendered is of utmost importance.
PLAN FOR THE NEEDS
Make your plans fit the needs of your particular group. Have you been guilty of using program material without considering, “is this what our young people need right now?” God’s work should be planned to fill the needs of his people and youth are some of his most important people.
Decide first the need of your youth group. This can be done best through prayer and asking God to show what is needed. Observe members of the group individually. Gather your program material to fit the need. It is good to keep a file of all new ideas and programs.
OUTLINE YOUR PLANS
To take the guesswork and confusion out of planning the youth service a detailed outline of the program should be made. After the program committee has decided on the program material to be used, the following outline could be used:
1. Prayer—the foundation of any work for god should be prayer.
2. Notify the advertisement committee well in advance as to the title and nature of the program. Share any suggested advertisement given by the program material.
3. Decide upon the young people who are to participate and the part to be filled by each. Keep in mind: if we don’t use them we will lose them.
4. Notify all participants in the program, including pianist, singers, speakers, ushers, and all others who are to have any responsibility connected with the service.
5. Give copies of the outline for the program to those taking leading parts. This will eliminate having to call on each one to take his place. List the purpose of the program at the top of the copy of the program, keeping it before the eyes of those participating.
6. Meet with all program participants at least a week and a half before your youth service. This meeting time will be determined by the type of program being used. Some require two weeks or more. The purpose of the program should be discussed and made clear. Also, any needed help should be given to those participating. Pray with them for god’s blessing and stress the importance of individual prayer. Be willing, always, to let god change your plans! Plan to start on time and have the program run like clockwork without dragging. Have the pianist present and on the job at least five minutes before starting time.
7. Put your plans to work—conduct the youth service.
EVALUATE YOUR ACHIEVEMENT
We plan, we meet, we advertise, we pray, but let us ask our selves: what have we accomplished? Have we gone anyplace? What should we have accomplished?
Deuteronomy 31:12—”gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.”
1. “Gather” the young people “together”— REACH THEM.
2. Why gather them together? “That they may hear, and that they may learn. . .“ —TEACH THEM.
3. Teaching is not the end; it is a means to the desired goal: that they may “fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.” —TRAIN THEM—in worship, in consecration, in living for the lord, and in his service.
Gathering them is not enough, but it is that they might, through youth-sponsored efforts, “fear the Lord their God and will do his will in his holy way.”
The ultimate goal is well-expressed in James 1:22, “but be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.” Our accomplishments are to affect the knowledge (“learn”), the heart (“fear the Lord”) and the actions (“observe to do”) of our young people.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”