Isn’t time for teenagers in your church to be leaders? Do you want their voices be heard? If your answer is ‘yes’ then read on. Delighting Grace caught up with Rachel Blom of Youth Leader Academy. Rachel graciously answered our questions about youth ministry, empowering teens and more:
Delighting Grace: Rachel, tell us why youth ministry matters to the church?
Rachel Blom: I think youth ministry matters to the church for several reasons. First of all, each person matters to God no matter how old or young you are. Society tends to see young people as kids, but they can contribute so much. Look at how God uses teens in the Bible, like David, Mary and Timothy. I’m convinced teens and youth can play a crucial role in the church – if we let them and help them in this. Secondly, it’s proven that it’s important to solidify your faith when you are a teenager. People who have a strong faith as a teen tend to keep their faith as an adult. That’s why we should invest in youth ministry to bring young people to Christ.
Delighting Grace: What can you say about churches that somewhat undermines youth ministry? How do we show that youth ministry is important?
Rachel Blom: I think the Bible should always be our starting point. It’s important to show how God has used teens throughout the Bible. God can use teens and young people in a mighty way if we allow Him. Often, current testimonies of teens about the impact of their youth ministry do wonders as well.
Most of the times churches who are somewhat against youth ministry are afraid of something. They may be afraid youth ministry will become its own church, that they will preach a different gospel, that the teens won’t come to church anymore, etc. In such occasions it’s very important to just talk with each other and get a clear picture of what these fears are. Youth leaders need to be understanding here and need to be humble and submissive to the ‘big church’.
Delighting Grace: What are the common problems do we encounter when we minister to teens?
Rachel Blom: I think the most important problem is to help them realize what truth means. Teens often pick and choose their own truths based on all the info they get, but we need to show them the only Truth who can save you. Also, I think that as witnesses, we often have the problem of not practicing what we preach. Our life, our actions, has to match our words otherwise our testimony and ministry is powerless.
Delighting Grace: Is there a way to determine that this one teen will be big someday? If I bring you to our youth ministry and line a group of teens, if you have to choose, who will it be? Is it possible to do that?
Rachel Blom: Most of the times it’s fairly easy to pick out the leaders, but that doesn’t mean they will be the ones to be ‘big’. God has a funny way of picking unlikely candidates for big jobs, people who at first glance don’t seem to be a good fit at all. So I don’t think you can make such a prediction, it really is up to God. But often those who have servant’s hearts will go far…
Delighting Grace: Do we need to really empower teens because for a fact they are young for it?
Rachel Blom: I think teens aren’t too young for anything. I wouldn’t entrust them full responsibility and they may need
adult supervision, but I’m convinced they can do much more than we often think. The Bible tells us that God gives spiritual gifts to each and every believer. It doesn’t say these are only given to adults, so teens who are committed to Christ have them as well. So yes, we do need to empower teens and install in them a great sense of purpose, a knowing that God can and will use them if they are willing to obey and follow.
Delighting Grace: Personally, how do you shape teens fit for leadership?
Rachel Blom: This is a tough question. I think it’s a combination of knowledge, practical skills but above all character that you’re going for. You can teach certain practical skills, like leading a Bible study or holding a meeting. Those aren’t that hard to teach. You can also share knowledge about leadership, the Bible, etc. But the most important part is character, because without a servant’s heart a leader isn’t any good. Character is hard to teach, that’s a matter of discipleship and mentoring in small groups, preferably one on one.
Delighting Grace: What about the parents? Some will take this leadership thing as a burden? How can someone avoid this assumption?
Rachel Blom: I think it’s about convincing parents of God’s calling. Again, look to the Bible for examples of parents like the parents of John the Baptist, Samson, or Samuel. Their child received a calling by God and as parents, we need to obey. The parents need to support their teen or youth in this and help them become the man or woman God wants them to be. In that way, parents can share some of the burden.
Delighting Grace: As a mom, how can someone employ leadership to their own children? Is there a difference in strategy for that kid from your church and your own?
Rachel Blom: In your own home, being a good example is of even more importance. Your kids will do what you do, not what you say. So as a parents, as a mom, you need to be very aware of this. My son is four years old and I’m trying to model the kind of relationship with God to him that I want him to have. So we don’t just do standard prayers, we talk with God and about God and involve Him in everything. I’m trying to show him who God is from a very early age on.
Delighting Grace: Before we end this interview, please invite our readers to your blog. Your blog is such a blessing especially for those of us who are ministering the youth.
Rachel Blom: I’m very grateful for the opportunity to share what God has taught me throughout the years with others, especially with regards to youth ministry. I’d love for you to come and visit my blog on www.youthleadersacademy.com May God bless you where ever and how ever you are serving Him!
Delighting Grace: Thank you Rachel, God bless you too!!!