If you’re not inviting youth into decision-making roles, you’re missing out. The two students on our Committee on Youth Ministry practically drove our meeting last night. We came away energized by an idea for a new experiment that was proposed by one student and meaningfully shaped by the other. I was kind of magic.
Students’ schedules and relative inexperience with participating in decision-making with adults means that sticking a youth on committee is not, by itself, a recipe for meaningful engagement. In fact, I attribute last night’s magic to there being two students in the room, not just one; it’s a rare group of adults who know how to draw out the confidence of the lone teenager at the table. They draw it out of one another, though.
What else? The agenda isn’t particularly youth-friendly, only clear and specific. Maybe just pay attention to how students are reacting to what’s being discussed and invite them to express themselves. One committee member last night pointed out that a youth member was putting off strong non-verbal cues at one point and made sure the rest of us noticed, stopped talking, and then listened.
The adults in the room have to want input from young people, not merely tolerate it.