‘Youth Day’ gives children leadership roles

Published 9:34 pm Friday, July 31, 2009

In a world of iPods, video games and Twitter updates, how can a church body engage its young men and women?

For Little Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the answer is to involve them.

This Sunday, the congregation of Little Mt. Zion will hold its annual Youth Day service. For Youth Day, students in the church are responsible for leading the Sunday service, which includes leading worship, selecting the readings and welcoming the members.

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“We try to train them in how to go about working in God’s house and what they need to do,” said Annie M. Reid, coordinator for the Youth Day events. “We’re hoping that as they work, they’ll feel closer to the Lord.”

The Youth Day has been a staple in the church for more than two decades. Reid said she can remember participating in the event when she was a student.

“We did this when I was growing up, and now I’m trying to work with them as others worked with me,” she said.

For Little Mt. Zion, though, the focus on involving the church’s youth is more than just a once-a-year thing.

The Youth Day is the culmination of a year’s work. Once a month, students shadow elders and deacons in the church to help learn the work of putting together a church service each week.

“The more they do it, the better they get,” Reid said. “It’s important, and it empowers them to want to come back, and we believe working in the church helps prepare them for other things – especially in school.”

Reid could be right.

According to a study done by the University of Iowa last year, church attendance has a greater effect on a teenager’s GPA than whether their parents earned college degrees. On average, according to the study, students whose parents received a four-year college degree average a GPA that is .12 higher than those whose parents completed only high school.

Students who regularly attend religious services have an average .144 points higher.

Additionally, the study showed that students who went to church weekly also had lower dropout rates and felt more a part of their schools.

“This is preparation,” Reid said. “They are in school, and they do this all the time in school. A lot of it — being organized, speaking in public — is the same. This is their church family.”

Reid added that above all other benefits, the church will continue this program in order to follow God’s calling.

“The Bible tells us to train up a child,” Reid said. “We consider it to be religious training in the House of God. That’s that we hope for. It’s always to glorify God and lift up His name.”