Shall we have high school Sunday School in our youth ministry?
If there is high school Sunday hour, then high school students are out of the service in isolation. If there is not a high school Sunday hour for high school students, then they are in service with their families and the family of God. The question that remains is: Is it better for a high school student be in isolation learning God’s word or is it better for a high school student immersed in the church service learning God’s word?
The goal of not only the youth ministry, but also Church at large is to assimilate authentic disciples into full participation in the life of the community of faith and the church. We want our students by the time they graduated high school fully immersed, engaged, and playing an active role within the church family. As Jim Burns of Youthbuilders and Mark DeVries of Family-Based Youth Ministry have said, “The degree to which students will stay in the church, get involved, and make significant life decisions for Christ is directly dependent on their sense of belonging to the community. The goal of any youth ministry must be that students see and experience themselves as participants in God’s family of faith.”
Also, statistics show that a high school student can think abstractly. The cognitive development of the high school students’ brain can digest, process, and comprehend the content presented at the pulpit. Yet, a junior high student still thinks concretely. They think very black and white and this is why during the 9am service we offer a junior high Sunday hour.
Currently, the problem Youth Ministry and churches are facing is that after a student graduates college they will never return back to Church. Given that some denominations, “estimate that over 50% of their youth group graduates fall away from either their faith or their faith communities upon entering college…” This is a reality that is transpiring within the church across America. Thus, this is why the student ministries and the church leadership need to be committed to student assimilation. We do not want our student orphans after high school, but we want students who are submitted under Christ serving Him and others while apart of the church family.
However, it is just as important to have programs and activities tailored only for high school students. It is imperative students’ process, digest, and commune with each other and God within a context of only them. This is why it is essential for a mid week program geared for only high school students.
The church leadership may need to realizes that there is a lack of student integration during the Sunday services. In addition, the church needs to execute in the integration process by helping parents raise their teenagers spiritually. The youth ministry goal needs to be aimed at partnering with families to assist in raising and developing the students spiritually. Raising a teenager, especially spiritually, is very difficult task, but it makes the process a lot easier when the church family, student ministries department, and the students’ family all partner together in developing a student who is an authentic follower of Christ fully functioning in the church body when he or she graduates high school.
Way to encourage student assimilation:
- Encouraging students to sit with their families
- Encourage other adults to intentionally seek out students before and after service
- High school students serving church members
- Students serving before/during/after church service (i.e.serve coffee and doughnuts, hand out bulletins, clean up pews, help with children’s ministry)
- Student testimony during family focus time
- Parent newsletter
- Family seminars
- Quarterly parent meetings
- Prayer ministry specifically praying for the needs of the students
- Bi-weekly email updates
 Laurie Goodstein, “Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers,” The New York Times, October 6, 2006.