Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm not one to do things the same two weeks in a row, but there has been a more or less standard format to Youth the past few months. It has been pretty successful but I feel like I have a great hang out that 50+ teens enjoy coming to on a regular basis without any real change for their lives. I believe a large part of that is that they aren't interested in change. I can't do anything but pray for that, but another big part is that they are largely ignorant.

They don't know what Jesus is all about. I have done my best to teach them, but the format isn't really conducive to learning. We have a lot of hang out time and fun things that I plan with a short sermon that I run in a 3 week series. I really like the overall format but I have run into a few big problems.

First, I get yelled at by a group of adults on a regular basis. They are not happy with the kids I have coming into you. I'll admit they are a challenge but I couldn't be happier with them. I can say that today because I love them and they haven't driven my mad in a couple of weeks. Tonight I'll wish they were well behaved like some of the youth at other churches, but in a couple days I will thank God for sending the ones I've prayed for. I'm going out on a limb right now and asking God to send more of the teens that Jesus would spend most of His time with and give me more opportunities to go to them.

Second, we have overlapping ministries where girls and boys who are eligible to attend youth are busy on the regular youth night in another program so they must choose between one program and another. I don't want to make people choose because I think that there are people that are much better served by the other ministries. On the other hand I think there are students that really need to be in the Youth. If there don't have to choose then they have the best of both worlds available to them.

Third, there is nothing to do in this town on the weekend that doesn't lead directly to poor choices. Seriously, the options end up in kids going from one party to the next, getting drunk/stoned and then having sex. It's a pretty big deal and the single complaint that I've heard form teens is that they have nothing to do.

Finally, we don't have any real discipleship happening the way things are going on Wednesday nights. I do my best to teach them but we need something more specific so I'm working to that end by making Saturday the fun night that will hopefully give a safe, fun environment for teens to go to instead of the other things they would normally be involved with. This will free up Wednesday for a more strategic discipleship program.

Anyone else tried something like this? It is a huge move and I've been building to it all summer with movie nights, but the kickoff in a few weeks will mark an absolute change in the program so any advice on making the switch would be much appreciated as well as lots of prayer for a smooth transition.

9 comments:

jasonS said...

I think your ideas about discipleship and a Saturday alternative are tremendous. I was actually thinking about mentoring/discipling and then read on to see you were thinking the same. I know if you have even a few that really "get" it and become passionate that it will influence many others. Great stuff and I pray blessings over everything you do.

Bridget Chumbley said...

Reaching the 'unreachable' children isn't easy but the rewards are great! Keep up the incredible work!

rustypants said...

i've done this with two different churches but too many thoughts to offer in this medium. can we hook up for a gtalk chat or something?

email me and let me know.

Chris said...

I grew up in a small, rural-ish town. Our church opened a youth center in an old grocery story. Free rent (from the city no less) so the utilities were all our church had to cover. We had donations from lots of people in the community (not only our church) of pool tables, foosball, ping-pong, etc, because people realized it was valuable to have a place for kids to hang out on the weekend that didn't invite trouble. Our Wednesday night youth group services were never about fun and hanging out, so that part wasn't a change for us, but it sounds like you are on the right track!

Max02 said...

Praying for you and the Youth of your area. Hope all goes well.

Youth/Students will always have a place in my heart.

Side question: How do you get the "Share" to Facebook & etc. at the bottom of your blog?

FaithBarista Bonnie said...

Your passion and longing to see their hearts change is a reflection of Christ in their lives.

For you, dear brother, in the frontlines for our youth:

Galatians 6:9 "Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."

It might not be for years or decades, but know your Father in heaven sees your work and is pleased. And those of us who have done youth ministry know what it is like to do the hidden work of Christ. It's the real thing. Not glamorous, but to God, it is! Blessings my brother.

The OC Josh said...

Hey Nick,
haven't commented in a while, been busy.
Anyways, I would say that if someone is mad at you for bringing in unchurched teens, they need to look at their heart. Jesus hung out with the least of society. I know you know this, but maybe they've forgotten. Second, I like the idea of moving the hangouttime to Saturday nights and having deeper teaching on Wednesdays. I think that could really work for you.

Steve Stowe said...

Worked for years with a church that had a Sat night youth ministry - with awesome results. Good luck and I know it will go great for you.

Nick the Geek said...

jasonS,
That is what I'm hoping for a few of the students to get really excited about learning and let them share with the others.

Bridget,
I keep reading my Bible trying to find out where it says it is suppose to be easy so I can throw that in God's face, but so far He hasn't lied about what I should expect so I keep trusting Him.

rustypants,
I'll be catching up with you soon. Life is so busy right now but I'll have time eventually.

Chris,
Thanks, that sounds very much like what the end goal for Friday and Saturdays will be between my church and another here in town.

Max02,
Thanks, and I'll try to send you a message. It is a widget you access from the control panel.

Bonnie,
You have no idea how meaningful that was for me. I read it over a week ago but haven't had item to comment. Thank you so very much for your encouragement. It carried me through a very busy and troublesome week.

OCJosh,
Yeah I hold myself back form telling people off and making it so much worse when they complain. I ran into a big spot of trouble on Saturday when some of the complainers happened to be doing some work at church. I wanted to ask them why they were less mature than my teens. I didn't though because that would be stepping down to their level.

Steve,

Thanks and I pray it does.

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