Summer is nearly half over for us here in Canada, students are still loving life at summer camp, and traveling to places near and far. While our students are sitting our basking in the son, many of us are hunched over our desks penciling in the next season of ministry. One parts of the planning process that should not be overlooked before starting this fall is a full evaluation of every element of your program, start to finish. Being thoughtful about why an element is included or why not, is vital going into fall launch and here are a three reasons why you need to have a reason for everything.
For God: Our first job is to point young people to Jesus and create mission/vision/value around that. If you don’t know why you are doing it, it needs to go and if some element does not point back to the mission of your ministry then why do you do it? First and for most we are accountable to God for what we do, and doing something “just because” is not good enough if you ask me.
For Students: Modelling for students that every facet of our lives matters to God is important and the same should be true of youth nights. We are not shy about explaining why we do what we do at Journey and I think it is a great teachable moment when students ask about our rationale behind a decision. Our student’s time is valuable; and when we have them, we will always try and make the most of it and from start to finish our goal is create space for students to encounter God, to connect with a caring leader, to learn about Jesus and to Worship Him. Having a clear purpose of your youth ministry will benefit the spiritual growth of your students.
For Parents: Parents have been known to be critical of youth programs (hard to believe I know) sometimes because the one they were a part of 30 years ago was not like “this”. For those parents it is wise to be prepared when they start asking questions such as:
-Why is the Worship so loud?
-Why do you allow secular music to be played in the Church?
– Do you know what the Harlem Shake is really about?
-Why do you allow saved and unsaved students in the same small groups? (Actual question)
-We never had small groups on the same night when I was in youth!
-Why don’t you play more games? My kid just wants to have fun.
– Are V-Necks that deep even legal?
It is pretty easy to disarm a concerned parent when you have an articulated thought out reason for doing what you do. If they question an element of your program and you don’t have a rationale for why you do it they way you do, watch out. Parents may not agree with you, but will respect that you have thought about their concern before hand.
For the sake of supporting the vision that God has given you for your ministry, and for making the most of every opportunity that you have when your students are in the building, its vital that you have a reason for every element of your youth night from the time the first student arrives until the last one gets picked up.
-Geoff Stewart @geoffcstewart