By Liz Perraud, Executive Director, GenOn Ministries
LOGOS with middle schoolers and high schoolers is different than with children. And yet it's not. The WHY of LOGOS is the same for any age-because we believe that an abundant life-giving relationship with God through Jesus Christ is more important than anything else. The WHAT that results from LOGOS is also the same--a relationship with God and Christ-centered relationships with others.
It's the HOW that varies depending on the age level.
One of the structural "bones" [read more on LOGOS bones here] of an effective LOGOS ministry is "YOUTH INVOLVEMENT" and defined: Intentional participation of youth (high school, middle school) in LOGOS is a critical factor in their faith development and the growth of the congregation. The involvement of youth, including regular leadership in congregational worship, has a direct and powerful influence on younger children.
That definition gives space and flexibility for a church to define what "intentional participation means." Is it having their own 4-parts of LOGOS (Bible study, recreation, worship arts, shared meal)? Is it appropriate leadership or support roles with the younger participants? Is it some combination of both? No matter how a church defines that participation, we believe that it impacts everyone. It's been said that the vitality of the youth ministry is a barometer of the quality of the spiritual life and health of a congregation. Attention and resources need to be directed toward your youth.
How might LOGOS with youth be different than with younger children?
- A name for their unique identity
- Late enough start time to allow for after-school activities
- Their own space
- Their own dining room for Family Time with leaders but not "table parents" or assigned seating
- Their own tables with their leaders in the dining room with younger participants
- Special meals or desserts
- Recreation that is often large-group
- Bible study groupings that allow for enough critical mass
- Flexibility during the evening for length of each part
- "Rites of passage" for middle school and/or high school youth
- Off-site events for some LOGOS nights
- Retreats and mission activities for weekends
- More of a team approach to adult leaders who stay with them for all (or most) of the evening
- Greater flexibility with participation to allow for seasonal school activities
- Strong adult leadership
- Parental involvement may not be direct (parents of youth volunteer with younger participants or serve in more of a support role for dinner)
While many high schoolers of the church enjoy spending time with the younger children, they're more likely to bring friends if they have their own separate space and approach to the 4-parts. However, building in some time with the children to form inter-grade level relationships is a good thing for everyone.
Never underestimate the importance of Worship Arts for youth at LOGOS. Leading in congregational worship is the connection to the larger body of the church. It contributes most to their sense of importance as part of the congregation. Worship leadership, in addition to mission and service projects, is also the way they can give back. Your youth leaders will be called to serve for your particular kids and so will know what kind of worship arts they will respond well to. And they will know when to encourage them to try something new.
For youth completing 8th grade and through high school, consider bringing them to one of GenOn's Youth Summits for a week in July. Summit West gathers in Estes Park, CO and Summit East in Wheeling, WV. Our Summits are a week of Christian community in a casual retreat setting. They provide a time for youth, young adults, and their leaders time to grow in their faith, in their commitment to Christ, and in community with each other.