Wednesday, September 30, 2009

YM as a MT?

I admit it. I am guilty, 100% guilty. I fell for it, I bought into it, I totally invested into it and was completely and utterly emotionally destroyed last week when I had a killer evening planned for youth group. I planned for 15 (which is a high number for our church) and was completely ready just in case I had a couple of extra people come. I was excited to redeem myself from the previous week's flop of an evening (it's hard to make pizzas when it takes an hour to cook them...and then enter the constant white noise in the fellowship hall and you have a group of chaotic hungries that ooze frustration for two hours).

OK, so my plan was great, a fun, active game, an active lesson, time for discussion and then bring it home with prayer and hangout time. Sounds good right? Now remember when I said I was prepared for 15? Well, it's hard to do a large group lesson/game when only 4 show up...and one of those was a half hour late. UGH! (((heart slowly breaking))) I dragged myself home that night defeated. I had taken extra time planning the night, even rushing through a meeting for another church ministry so I'd have extra time to fine tune things. I even called a couple youth to come in early and help me set up...they were one half of the total group that night. I fell for it, I bought into it...and I failed...I failed at the numbers game. I bet Louis Palau would laugh at my small, teeny, tiny little spec of youth ministry in my church.
So the next morning I dragged myself into my office thinking that I was on the fast-track to a firing..."how can a church financially support someone who's only having 4 youth show up at YG? My church needs results...these aren't results...they are results of failure..."
Enter Pastor Gordon..."Do Hard Things"...and a return to what I know.
Ok, after a long talk with Pastor Gordon, I'm rethinking my ministry with the youth. So apparently I was the only one that was super upset with the turnout last week. From the mouth of Gordon, "Don't worry about numbers, worry about quality ministry." And he's right. It's what I've been taught all the way back to my first week in a YM class at Oak's not a numbers game...and I shouldn't have let it become one.
So, what's "Do Hard Things" have to do with it? Well, I'm sure many people have heard of the book written by the Harris twins. Well, it's been on my "To be read" shelf for quite a while and I finally pulled it into my "Reading" group of books. I got four chapters in and had a revelation (most people would call it God speaking to me...which is probably more likely the case). "Ok, if I'm only going to have 4 youth show up...we're going to impact our community. What if we approached youth ministry as a mission team?" So here's what we're going to start doing. Each month has roughly 4 Wednesdays. The first Wednesday we head to the High School to engage in the Worthington Area Youth monthly gathering. It's a monthly gathering of all Worthington youth groups to worship, learn, and grow in community. That leaves 3 weeks to Do Hard Things. I'm going to be devoting probably about 90% of our youth programming to prayer and service. I received a globe donation last year that I was going to utilize for this. But then I had a different idea. In order for the youth (which is a small group) to see what sort of impact we can have globally through prayer, I got some Post-it flags. I'm going to have the youth watch the news for things they feel led to pray about (like the tsunami in Samoa or the earthquake in Indonesia) and write the prayer request on the flag and point it at the location of the event/request. Then we'll devote time during the meeting to praying for these events/requests. Over the course of the school year the globe will be covered in flags showing the breadth of our prayer, but also God's presence across the globe.

Now I know there's not much mission in just praying, so in order to impact our community as a group, I'm going to get a hold of the Catholic Charities director in town and see how we could best volunteer in the community. Then the bulk of the extra three weeks each month will be us out in the community volunteering. Who doesn't learn best by learning? Doesn't this fall into Paul’s, "Work out your own salvation..."? Or how about, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin." (Zechariah 4:10 NLT). I'm excited to see these youth grab onto this! I'll try and keep everyone posted on how things are working out with it. But first we're going to do a 6 week study through the book, "Do Hard Things" to hopefully empower the youth and motivate them to take action! Watch out Worthington, FMY IS COMING!!!



Betsy said...

YAY! I love it. Volunteer. People do and get excited about things when they are PART of something.

How exciting. I haven't read "Do Hard Things" but it sounds wonderful.

Yay, Kyle. Isn't nice when God takes something that feels like a slap in the face and turns it into a V8 moment?!

Brian said...

Great, great post. So many youth ministers have felt the struggle to make their youth ministries look like everyone else's only to be to feel inadequate. But why should we? I love that you've decided to be your own thing -- to see that having a small group makes you all lighter, more mobile, more flexible than a big church youth group. Best of luck!

Shelley said...

Good for you!!! God does send people into our path for a reason....whether it's many or a few. Take hold of whomever he sends, whenever he sends them. As a church musician, I often felt I should use the God-given talents in a larger church somewhere....but God always led us to small churches. And they need ministry, too, just like everybody else. So minister we do...with God's blessings working through us for "quality", not "quantity".

Anonymous said...

I am in the same boat, in the midst of a debate of quality vs quantity. I am not comfortable leading a youth ministry in which we go paint balling every month (as has been suggested) then spend the other meetings watching movies and saying the occasional "Alleluia!" just to get the numbers.
Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

I have a strong group of high school students, but our junior high meets on a separate night only twice a month and we are lucky to have 4, with 3 being a more typical number. Not that I want to play the numbers game here. But I have been struggling to come up with things that we can do with such a small group. I love your ideas here, now I just have to figure out what we can do in our community. Thanks for sharing!

freak said...

@Anonymous: St Paul (from th bible) had (to the best of my knowledge) 1 teenager in his youth group. That teenager's name was Timothy. He was the only teenager in Paul's youth group, yet he was discipled and trained to be like Paul.
Now for how this relates to you. The numbers game is really hard to avoid (trust me, i play it a lot!), especially in your situation where the common number of teens is like 3 or 4, but you can use that to your advantage. If you can get, say 2 (one boy & one girl) from your high school teens who are ready to lead in junior youth, and get them to help you lead (not as a ploy to increase numbers, but as a means of having a relationship/leader-base) and those teens help you out in running your junior youth.
The key here is not specifically to have a youth group has large numbers (10s,100s, or 1000s) but rather to have a youth group that (a) knows the gospel of jesus, (b) is welcoming to new kids and is not 'clicky' or separatist, (c) they know people there and wanna know people there, and (d) they know that the leaders care about them.
The best way that i've seen to do this is to make friends with the kids. get to know them, over time they will trust you completely, pray for them, pray with them, spend time with them, teach them gods word and above all else HAVE FUN!! teens and preteens love having fun. Through having fun, you can build a serious relationship with them so that you can teach them the gospel of jesus christ, teach them how to serve Him (this is important and hard, as you also need to be serving alongside them), and teach them how to share the gospel and disciple others. Through this process, you'll basically train in the way they should go, and then over time, the numbers will increase. The 3 main points in this: make friends, have lots of fun, and teach the gospel.