Developing Competence

Photo by Brandon Zack

This week I’m starting a new adventure.  I stepped out of leading one of our congregation’s worship teams in order to develop a student worship team for our middle school ministry.  I have the privilege of leading this group as they learn to work through the challenges of coming together to make music as a team and lead their peers in worship.  Can’t wait to see how this will go!

One of the reasons I’m so excited about investing in this way is because research points to the power of developing competence in teenagers’ lives.  Not only does learning competence in an area promote overall thriving in kids, but it is specifically tied to helping faith stick beyond high school.  Carol Lytch wrote about this a few years ago in her book Choosing Church.  Based on in-depth ethnographic research of adolescents in their youth groups and broader congregations, Lytch discovered that building competence through leadership or service of some sort was one of the factors connected with the choice to stick with church—and faith.

Similarly, in our College Transition Project so far, students who were involved in leadership in some way in their youth groups show stronger faith at the end of high school and across the transition to college.  In other words, giving students meaningful and skill-developing opportunities to serve their youth group and church matters—right now and for years to come.

I can’t think of much else I’d rather be doing to help my youth ministry right now.

PS: Kara wrote a summary of Choosing Church a few years ago for our website.  You can read it here for more ideas.