As a youth worker, it’s essential to build a foundation of people who are eager to invest in the lives of our teenagers. Typically, that means other ministry staffers, adult volunteers, parents, and even college students. One group we often overlook is senior adults.
Nothing I’ve seen in youth ministry overshadows the impact of senior adults who commit to investing in the lives of young people. I’ve seen this firsthand at my church. At extracurricular events involving the kids in my group, I was often not the first person to arrive from our church. That honor belonged to a senior adult couple, Tom and Cecile. The rhythm of their life, every week, included attending our teenagers’ events. They had a simple mission: show these kids they’re valued and important. And those kids noticed—after every performance or game, our teenagers sought out Tom and Cecile to thank them for coming. And in those typically brief interactions, this older couple found many ways to encourage and support them. Watching these interactions helped me to realize that every church could be doing more to pave the way for these intergenerational God moments.
As a youth worker, it’s essential to build a foundation of people who are eager to invest in the lives of our teenagers.Click to tweet
The problem is, most youth ministries are segregated away from senior adults, and older folks often believe they have nothing to offer teenagers. A few ways to overcome those challenges:
1. Publish a Student Events Calendar: Chorus concerts, sporting events, and theater productions are among the easiest environments for senior adults to make an impact—they just need the details. So set up a Student Event Calendar by having kids (ie: their parents) submit their extracurricular schedules to a master calendar. I use Google Calendar to make this much easier. If you prefer a physical calendar, print it and hand it out. It’s just that easy.
2. Adopt a Teenager: What if every teenager in your ministry had an adoptive grandparent at your church? These are “secret agent” youth workers who make a point to speak to them every week at church or wait for them when they get back from a retreat or invite them to lunch. I was recently invited to a former student’s wedding that was small and out-of-state. One of the few church members invited was an older gentleman who took that teenager to lunch whenever he was home from college. These interactions have lasting implications!
3. Plan Intergenerational Road Trips: Perhaps one of the most meaningful moments in my youth ministry history happened in a car heading to a mission trip. In the car were three generations of church members. As we drove to our worksite, the oldest member shared his faith and explained why he followed Christ and served others. I sat in awe as I watched a 6th-grader eat up every word, asking questions along the way. Mission trips are a staple of youth ministry, but with some intentionality, you can create road-trip moments that give senior adults a chance to pass on their faith to young people.
We all have a mostly unused ministry asset hiding in plain site—senior adults can be powerhouse influences on the faith of your teenagers.