Thinking About Youth on Vestry
Being a vestry member means leading in a community of faith. It means committing yourself to stewardship. It means speaking and acting from your own experience for the benefit of others.
The Office of Youth Ministry recently surveyed diocesan youthworkers about the experience of young people serving on local parish vestry boards. We heard stories about churches who make a concerted effort to identify, train, and mentor young leaders to be full vestry members—their actions are creating broad-reaching and powerful outcomes.
Giving young people an equal voice in church management is an empowering life-moment for a young person, and can be a transformative event for the congregation. The Vestry Resource Guide points out that “each generation sees the world differently because it was formed by different major world events and cultural changes.” Having that variety of perspectives at the table can help a church respond to changes in your wider community and around the world.
But what we learned from diocesan youthworkers that youth-on-vestry success begins with identifying strong candidates and giving them the ongoing support and mentorship. All of these ingredients are necessary in order for a young person (with no board experience) to contribute in this new environment.
Certainly, this process looks different in each church community. In any event, it might be in your vestry’s interest to start thinking about which high school students are attending worship regularly, who among them is involved in community events, and who has the availability to attend regular vestry meetings. Also think about who are the adults in the community who have a gift for coaching and mentorship.
The perspective of young people is important to the faith-life of any community. All people benefit when young people have a role in shaping our guiding principles.
What are your suggestions for how to involve young people with church vestries? Best practices for making youth participation a positive experience for the entire vestry membership?