Developing Leaders: Youth Takeover

Contributed by: Charlie Baker, Diocese of Auckland

A youth takeover is a great way to give your young people a chance to stretch themselves and have a go at leading!

There are lots of different ways for doing this, but a couple of ways that we have found have worked well is having a youth-led worship service and getting our youth to lead our kids program for a day.

Kids program

This works well for intermediates and high school youth. Consult with your children’s ministry leaders about what their program typically looks like, so you can work in with that and make sure you don’t miss any important details (e.g. celebrating birthdays). For one or two weeks beforehand, teach your youth on the topic you want them to teach the kids about. Spend some time with them brainstorming ideas of what they could do. Then assign each person a leadership task and break them into pairs/teams to prepare the parts of the program that they will be leading. Provide them with all the equipment they need (e.g. craft supplies).

Some examples of leadership tasks:

  • Memory Verse: Prepare and lead a creative way to help the kids learn the key verse for the lesson (e.g. a visual aid, picture code).
  • Game: Prepare and lead a game.
  • Worship: Select and lead a couple of worship songs.
  • Testimony: Share a brief story about their personal journey with God.
  • Teaching: Write and lead a short teaching time on the Bible passage/topic.
  • Discussion: Prepare questions on the passage/topic for the large group or small groups to discuss.
  • Drama: Write their own skit or practice and perform a drama related to the topic.
  • Craft: Prepare and lead a craft activity based on the topic/memory verse.
  • Colouring In: Draw/design a black and white picture for colouring in, based on the topic/memory verse.
  • Prayer: Prepare and lead creative prayers (e.g. create visuals for prayer points or prepare materials for a prayer activity)
  • Morning Tea: prepare and serve morning tea.
  • Small Group Leaders: lead a group whenever they break up into groups e.g. when playing games, crafts, discussion, prayer

Youth-led Services

If you have older youth, then taking the lead in a worship service is a great way for them to use their gifts and get involved in the wider church. Consult with your vicar or leadership team about what aspects of the service the youth can lead and any things that need to be included or that you will need to be aware of for that service. Arrange some specific training with your ministry leaders beforehand e.g. for preaching, worship, operating the sound desk.

Some of the roles that your youth could be involved with:

  • Welcoming
  • Service leader/liturgist
  • Notices
  • Worship – selecting worship songs, worship leading, a full worship band or participating in the existing team
  • Intercessions – writing and leading prayers, creating visual aids in PowerPoint
  • Prayer Ministry – praying for others
  • Morning Tea – baking, serving morning tea
  • Testimony
  • Preaching – either one person, or three people taking a tag-team approach
  • Perform a drama or dance
  • Video – film a short clip e.g. vox pop
  • Tech – operate the sound desk, data projector
  • Bible readings
  • Help serve Communion

Things to remember

Most young people will feel nervous about leading, so make sure you take time beforehand to talk to them about how they are feeling, and to pray for them. Give them a chance to do a practice or run through so that they can feel more confident in what they need to do.

Immediately afterwards, give them a chance to debrief, so that they can unpack their experience and learn from it. Then, celebrate with them! Tell them what a great job they did and give thanks to God for how He worked through them.