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How to Include More Youth

Q.  We'd like our congregation to be more inclusive of youth. Where do we start?

A. Everywhere, says Jason Lydon, congregational director at Community Church of Boston and a former Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) program specialist. Here's what he suggests:

Get youth involved in social justice issues by learning about the issues youth are involved in or that are of particular interest to them. For ideas, visit the YRUU website. Utilize Unitarian Universalist Association curricula or develop your own to keep youth engaged in religious education through high school. Involve them as teachers for younger children with support from other youth or adults. Include them on the Religious Education Committee.

Involve youth in worship by asking them to participate in readings, chalice lightings, choir, and other musical aspects of worship. Encourage them to create at least an annual service. Be receptive to different ways of conducting worship. A midweek service might be more popular with them than Sunday morning.

Include youth in small group ministries to create authentic intergenerational community. Consider a newsletter column written by youth. Invite youth onto committees, but make allowances for their busy evening schedules. Do more than add a token youth here and there. Build intentional and authentic relationships. Encourage conversation among people of all ages at coffee hour. Serving alcohol at church events can alienate underage people. Address youth directly rather than going to their parents or guardians. Above all, learn the names of youth in your congregation and address them as individuals.

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