Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Hard Thing

One of the hardest things in youth ministry is to NOT gauge your performance based on numbers. It is very difficult, though, when only a few attend the activities that you plan. Here are some things that might go through your mind...

- Am I boring? Do I plan boring stuff?
- Are the things I'm planning helping our teens to grow spiritually? Are they too deep? Is that why the don't show up? Are they too shallow?
- I feel guilty for taking the church's money for doing an activity with ONE teenager.
- Is it worth doing an activity if only one or two show up?
- How come coaches and parents can require teens to attend (insert extracurricular activity) practice, but not spiritual activities?
- Maybe I'm just a bad youth minister...

What is the secret? How do some churches consistently get a large percentage of kids to go? Is it having a dynamic personality in the youth ministry position? Is it adding more staff or volunteers? Is it providing things for the parents so that they will drag their kids along? Is it pouring more $$$ into it and making it bigger and louder?

Obviously, I don't know the answer yet!! But I DO know feels great when the kids you ministered to call you from college on a regular basis! It is awesome when one of "your teens" calls you for a Bible question. It is all worth it when they tell you that they remember your classes or devotionals! It is rewarding when they call just to say that they appreciate you!
When those things happen, small numbers in attendance don't really seem to matter.


carrie said...

I think this is a major society problem right now. This is a situation we, as christians, should be praying about. I think we should be praying since Todd and Fischer will one day be a part if a youth group. I want them to have the kind of youth group I had growing up!

Anonymous said...

I think part of it has to do with how much the parents encourage and support youth ministry participation. If the parents put a lot of other things above youth ministry times, then the kids aren't likely to place a high value on it, either. I also think it might be related to the crazy schedules today's families are keeping. Unless the parents are already going to be at or near the location of a youth activity, fitting that activity into their time might be rather hard. And if youth ministry times are every single week, kids may be more likely to skip a few meetings... waiting for one they think will be worth their time.

Emily and I are flying back for Akastasia ... I guess she'll get the award for furthest distance traveled, huh?

Tracy said...

Hey babe...I think that you are an awesome youth minister. I know that it is hard not to take it personally when events are attended poorly...but it is not your fault. Karen is right about parents supporting youth ministry participation. IT IS ALL about what we value as the most important thing. I am personally thankful to have had so much exposure to this kind of problem...because I know what NOT to do when Fischer is a teenager. Franklin and I decided that when he is older he is allowed to participate in ONE activity per semester. He gets to choose it, but that is it. Our church family will be the most important "extracurricular activity." But you say....what about college...if they don't do ALL this stuff they won't get into a good college. SO WHAT! God didn't use college scholars to fulfull His work while He was here on earth. Or you say...well you don't understand because you don't have a teenager...yes, but I was a teenager at one time and I am thankful that my parents always made our church family #1. Otherwise I don't think I would feel the way I do today. What ever happened to kids just being kids instead of being shuffled from one activity to the next? Kids are just way to busy these days. I know you feel the same way Carrie!(You've been there).

Jeremy said...

Disclaimer: I’ve only recently started attending Southwest again so I have no idea what the youth program entails.

When I was a kid, I remember church functions as something I didn’t want to attend. It was all about me back then. That’s how kids normally are right? Self centered. That’s how we all are I guess.

Anyway I guess my point is that if I were charged or so inclined to become a youth minister I wouldn’t focus on spiritual needs outside the classroom on Sunday or Wednesday or whenever the ‘Bible studies’ take place. In my experience kids can only take so much of that before they get bored. Right or wrong I think this is where I am too.

I love talking about spiritual things, but at some point you just want to live.

Again, like I said I have no idea how your program is structured so take this with a grain of salt.

I do know that my wife, Christa, loves to hear you give sermons. Of the three ministers she likes your style the best, shhhh don’t tell Jim or Chris. LOL.

Hang in there. We all have times in our lives when we really wonder if we’re making a difference. You are.

Grace said...

Franklin - we are very blessed to have you, Tracy, and Fischer with us! I am on the other side as a struggling parent trying to encourage my teens without pushing them too much to participate. Please continue to pray for all our youth and KNOW that you already have made a big difference! They NEED you!