Post by Frank Gil
I don’t actually want you to fail. I just hope you have the freedom to fail if you have to in 2018. One of the enticing aspects of student ministry is that we can take risks, be innovative, and think outside of the box. I am fortunate to be on staff where my lead pastor, campus pastor, and executive pastor have all been previous youth workers and know what it is like to take risks in youth ministry. They get why I would buy a thousand Nerf bullets or why I turn in several frozen custard receipts every month. I am thankfully supported in my innovative-risk-taking ideas and goals, even when there is potential to fail in accomplishing these goals. Below are some risks I am implementing this year that very well may fail, but either way, I hope will still pay off big time!
Risk #1: For our big winter retreat every student will get two free registrations to give to their friends. This is an opportunity for students to let their friends come for free who do not usually come to our youth group. We budgeted for this intentionally. I know that the money could have gone to doing more at the winter retreat. Instead, I am hoping that this opportunity will enable more students to make our youth group their home.
Risk #2: Every year we do a big Back-to-School event where we bring in a band/rapper and do a whole big event. It is 100% free to everyone. With that being the case, this event also hugely affects our budget. After doing this event a couple years in a row, this year our team decided to end it. Our kids loved it, but we are going to try something completely different this year that will be better for our budget and still align with our goals. Students might initially get bummed because this is something they have come to expect. A lesson here is that, no matter how popular, if an event is not hitting your ministry goals, it is time to can it and come up with something else.
Risk #3: Another idea we are running with this year is once a month having what we call a fellowship night. Instead of a typical sermon and then small groups, we will skip the sermon and students will head straight into groups where their small group leader is free to do what they want with their group. Some may play games. Some may do some intentional activities. Some may just sit in a circle and talk. However, all groups will still end with an intentional time of prayer. We want to make stronger small groups and we hope with these fellowship nights once a month, it will make small group time more meaningful.
What risks are you taking in 2018? I love the ideas I have heard from the DYM Community. Some have a night of just worship the entire time. Some have moved all their events to connect with their youth services (Friday and Saturdays are no longer for youth events!). I have heard of groups getting rid of snacks from their group and others adding a snack bar to sell snacks and drinks. Whatever the risk is, I hope it fulfills your goals in 2018! If it fails, I hope you (and I) can learn what to change to keep making our youth groups better!