Much talk has been heard recently in church circles about silo ministries, where those in various areas of the church operate almost independently of each other. This is especially true in youth ministry, where churches have been content to budget for a youth minister and then leave it up to that person to “deal” with the youth. In large churches, the youth program may even have its own wing where the noisy youth can go and where they won’t interfere with whatever else is going on in the building.
Youth leaders are now coming to the realization that this silo approach to youth ministry does not lead to life-long disciples or church-goers. Rev. Sam Halverson, a youth minister for 30 years who now serves as the associate director of connectional ministries for the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, addresses this issue in his book One Body: Integrating Teenagers into the Life of Your Church. He writes that:
Statistics tells us that people whose teenage church experiences were limited to youth rooms and youth worship, lock-ins and mission trips, fundraisers and spiritual retreats, and who never got to know the whole church…will grow up continually searching for a church that is like their youth ministry experience.
Rev. Halverson’s solution to this problem is not to eliminate youth ministry but to work with the rest of the church to integrate the youth into the life of the church. His book provides practical tips on how to do this and even includes an intergenerational evaluation survey for churches. He suggests ways to encourage congregations to welcome youth into the main worship service and suggestions for having the entire congregation relate to the youth. He also advises that youth ministers need to get to know the whole congregation and be more involved in all the ministries of the church.
PRC recently hosted three webinars led by Rev. Halverson on the topic of youth ministry. They were titled: Getting In and Out of Silos, Doubt and Discipleship, and Measuring Success: The Dangers of Playing the Numbers. All three webinars were recorded and can be viewed for free by registering on the webinar page of PRC’s website.