A few months ago my wife and I moved out of an apartment, and bought a house. Owning a house is very different than renting an apartment. With an apartment, there are little to no responsibilities, but with a house, the owners are responsible for EVERYTHING!!

One of those responsibilities is taking care of the yard. I like yard-work. I enjoy getting outside and working with my hands. I enjoy the space that yard work gives me to reflect on my week. Some of my best worship times with God have come while doing yard work. The last few weeks I haven’t had that much time to put into our yard, so the only thing getting worked on has been our front yard. A few days ago I walked out into our backyard and it was a WRECK! The grass was overgrown, the weeds were crazy tall, and it looked terrible. The front yard was great, but the back was an absolute mess.

It wasn’t that big of a deal though, because the only people who see my backyard are my wife, family, close friends, and my dog. As I was going through the tough task of getting things cleaned up in the backyard, I really felt God speaking to me about our youth programs at church.

Our mid-week programs are definitely the front yard of our youth ministry. Everyone comes to these, and people seem to enjoy them. Our team works hard to make these programs smooth and polished. Then we have youth Sunday school. Sunday school is definitely our backyard youth group program. It’s a little messy, unorganized, and unpredictable. Not everyone comes to Sunday school…in fact our Sunday school attendance is only about 15% of our group. But just like a real backyard setting…some of the deepest and most spiritual conversations happen in youth Sunday school. As the Holy Spirit was working on me, I realized that if our Sunday school program stays messy, and unorganized, we are missing a HUGE opportunity with our students.

Attendance may never reach that of our mid-week programs, but it’s my responsibility as the youth pastor to provide an environment for students to connect with God. Revamping our youth Sunday school will be a tough task, but I believe in doing so, our youth team, and church is remaining faithful to God.

What program is your backyard? What in your youth ministry could use some work?

Obviously different programs require different amounts of effort, but I want to challenge you to try and make all of them excellent. It’s our job to prepare our lessons, worship times, and small group material. At times all of this preparation has been overwhelming to me…however I never want to communicate that one program is more important than another. Anytime students are present, that time should be of high value. It’s tough to swallow at times, but both the front yard and back yard deserve to look great, no matter who sees them. 

Alex Wierda is the Youth Pastor at Central Christian Church.