Sunday, November 11, 2007

Balancing Youth Group Events

Tim did a post on the following: 100 blog topics I hope YOU write. He put the challenge out there quite awhile ago and some have been written. If you want to see the topics and the articles ... click here.

I am going to attempt to answer number 27. The reason for attempt is that I am struggling with the question. I think it MIGHT be the wrong question. With that being said, here it is:

How to balance youth group events with athletics, homework and jobs ?

The simple answer for me is three-fold.

One, set a schedule and stick to it and communicate that you DO NOT have to attend everything. I know that a lot of individuals do not like that because they scream: WHERE IS THE COMMITMENT !! But, if we let individuals knows when we are having the event and they can count on it; they will know where to be "if they want to come".

Two, do not fill the calendar for the sake of filling the calendar. We, as youth groups, get to busy filling the calendar for the sake of filling the calendar and we drive this crazy train for competing for time / energy of families that are already zapped and maxed out and they do not need the church "pressurring them" and making them feel quilty. I understand when people first read this and scream "WHERE IS GOD IN ALL OF THIS"

Thirdly, incorporate ministry into where their lives are at. This is very difficult to do for individuals that like nice clean scorecards where they can say, "we had 120 youth at youth last night". Believe me, I was there with the counting, numbers and the come to us mentality. We really need to see where they are in create ministry for them in those places. This will do a couple of things:

1. Free up time (for the student/parent)
2. Take the "guilt off of them"
3. Influence the Community more
4. Places the focus on the Kingdom of God over the individual church
5. Maybe, just maybe, begin to place the spiritual guidance back to the parents.

How does this look ???

1. We have students sharing their lives with individuals who they are in contact with - being real and being accountable. We realize that having students "out in the world" in school, extra-curricular activities, jobs and "you make the list" places them in direct contact with more people than would ever come to the "church".

2. We go to where they are out and make it ministry. We share life with them. We are at their events, celebrate the accomplishments, mourn in the disappointments and create ministry time before/after events.

On Monday night when the girl soccer team is playing. Encourage the parents/players to eat at a local restaurant before the game or go out to the local coffeeshop afterwards. They share what is going on in their lives and we have the opportunity to share along side of them. It is part of their "routine". you pick the scenario in your community, church and context ... Dream about the possibilities.

3. Use Technology. We have the capability to reach students and have teaching opportunities for them in ways that we have not had before. We can "instruct" without them being where we are at. Use the technology format that works for you to connect the students to teaching and have ops for them to discuss without them being there "live".

4. Develop a life plan for each family. See what the family wants their destination to be and help them create that to happen. Each family is different. Just as each individual who goes to the gym and meets with the trainer as a different "plan"; maybe we need to do the same with the families we are in contact with.

I believe these are a few steps that we can take to help balance youth group with everything that is going on in their lives. I think that we often look at the "negative" aspect when we can be and should be focusing on the positive side.

I understand why the question is asked: How do we balance youth group events with athletics, homework and jobs ? But, I think that it might be the wrong question and we need to work with the church leadership team, volunteers, parents and students and begin to ask new and different questions.

What might be the new / tough question for this one ?

For me, maybe it is the following:

How do we, as churches, impower families to be Christ in every aspect of their lives (where they are at) ?

If we do this, I believe we will see a greater impact on the Kingdom of God than trying to develop a scheme/time that will create more ops for students to be at our youth events.

I doubt if this is what Tim was looking for or the hundreds of readers that read Tim. This is just where I am at and part of my struggle on the role of the church and what we are / have been trying to accomplish.

I struggle.


Anonymous said...

Hey Jeff, thanks for the comment on my blog.

Your post is a good one, and part of me takes your stance.

But then there's the other part of me that is starting to show itself, and it's quite anabaptist. That part of me says that our lives of Christian community should be normative, should be more foundational and important than football, soccer, band, whatever. I tend to think we need to be better at creating an alternative counter-community rather than worry about relevance.

In some ways, I'm becoming a bit of a separatist in the idea that our separate Christian communities should be normative and inform the ways in which we interact with the wider culture. And I don't see how that can happen unless our Christian communities are a priority.

Thoughts From Jeff said...


I fully understand your thought process and stance. I miss hearing your voice 9if you are still giving it) over at YMX.

I definitely dig your alternative community over the relevance deal.

Where I am struggling is the "Christian Bubble" and the "Come To Us Mentality".

Foremost to me, I want to change our community. I think that we can make Christian communities priority without them being at the church building.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree that we don't have to be at the church building to make each other our priority. I think there is still a lot of "artificial community" in churches, and I'm having trouble figuring out how to address that.

I am just so busy with other things that I don't have the energy to post on YMX. I still browse the forums regularly, so if there is something that I really want to comment on, I will. Seems like it's been a little ho-hum lately, though.