Equipped for a mission-focused
Journey With Jesus

Welcoming Young People

Are we willing to become children in order to reach children for Jesus?

By Dishon Mills, Pastor, Charlotte, NC

In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul made one of the most beautiful and challenging statements about mission in Scripture. He wrote:

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV

Paul encouraged his readers to participate in the mission of Jesus Christ by meeting people in their situation. To the extent possible, and without deviating from the way of Christ, Christians are to learn the ways of our neighbors without judgment and relate to those we encounter in a manner they can understand.

What would happen if we applied this passage to our youngest neighbors? What would it mean for us to become like children in order to win children? There are a lot of answers to these questions. Articles have been written in this column that spoke about the importance of engaging young people in our communities (mission). However, another thing we should consider is the extent to which our congregations are welcoming environments for children and youth. When a young person visits your fellowship, what signals that they have arrived in a place that is for them?


At our congregation, GC Steele Creek, we have been wrestling with this question. We are blessed with several young people, yet we are still building our children’s and youth ministries. We need gifted and called leaders to coordinate our youth discipleship efforts, however, we did not want to be idle while we prayerfully discerned the Lord’s will. Our leadership team talked it over, and one of the things we decided to do was have a youth-oriented service every fifth Sunday (give or take a week depending on the worship calendar). We change our order of service and song selections to cater to our youngest members. A “sermon” is given by an experienced youth ministry leader that features games, prizes, and interaction. The entire congregation is involved, with older members helping younger members with the activities. At various points in the service, we hear the voices of young people in their own words, speaking about things that God has put on their hearts.

We have done one youth-oriented service so far, and it was a big success. The young people had a great time! However, what struck me was the extent to which the older people had a good time too. Older members transformed into children right before my eyes. I think there is something powerful in this. I believe the youth-oriented services will not only signal to our young people how important we believe they are to us and to God, they will train our adult members on being child-like. It is my hope that we grow to become like children in order to win children.

This is one of the things we are doing to create a welcoming environment for children and youth. What are some things that your group is doing? What works in your situation? If you have an idea for how to create a welcoming environment for young people, please leave a comment below. Let’s try to share some good ideas with each other.

As we try to become like children, we are actually following Christ. He became like us to rescue and redeem us. This is his way. Let us do all we can to become like Jesus to our younger neighbors.

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