Why teens should attend church-wide meetings

Annual Meeting 2014

Our church's annual meeting was two weeks ago. Each year at this meeting, the pastor talks about the state of the church, we discuss various issues impacting the church, and we vote on a budget.

Although the meeting is open to all members of our congregation, most of those who attend are older. There is one notable exception to this: Our youth.

Each year, I encourage our teens and in particular, student leaders, to attend this meeting for several reasons.

First, it gives them a voice in matters that impact them in large and small ways, including our youth ministry's budget.

Knowing how difficult it can be for teens to speak up in front of a room full of adults, to ensure they feel confident in their voice, prior to the annual meeting, I take time to walk them through various issues that will be discussed. This gives teens the chance to ask questions about those issues in a safe environment.

I do the same with the church's budget and in particular, with our youth ministry's budget. When it comes to the budget, my goal is for teens to be the most knowledgable people in the room.


Because I want them to know how much money it takes to run our youth ministry. I want them to see how that money is connected to the larger congregation and how every ministry's budget – ours included – is directly dependent on offerings from families like theirs.

Beyond that, I want them – and not just me – to be able to answer any questions that might arise during the annual meeting about our ministry's budget. Such knowledge gives teens ownership of our ministry and a voice in our overall congregation. Not to mention – when teens are the ones articulating where and how your ministry's budget is stewarded, it's much harder for people to cut it.

This strategy paid off at this year's annual meeting. I had to unexpectedly leave at the start of the meeting, leaving a table of teens behind. As budget discussions began, a question was posed about our ministry's budget which one of my teens was able to confidently answer, impressing many of the adults in our congregation with her detailed knowledge and understanding of our budget.

Read the rest of this article here. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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