A few years ago, I conducted a thorough assessment of my youth ministry. As part of this, I surveyed students, interviewed them, and conducted focus groups for parents of former, current, and future students.
One of the findings that most surprised me from this process was how many families in my congregation didn’t even know our youth ministry existed. Several things contributed to this faulty assumption: Most people don’t actually understand the acronyms we often use to describe our high school youth ministry; Our youth room is extremely isolated, which contributes to the mentality, “Out of sight; Out of mind”; And as a lay staff member, I’m often not visible in Sunday morning worship.
Knowing this means that as a youth worker, I need to take advantage of every opportunity I have to share my youth ministry with my larger church community.
That’s why I try not to groan along with my colleagues when our secretary gently reminds us that Friday is the deadline for our monthly church newsletter.
Writing a column for this newsletter takes time – often, it’s time I don’t I have. This makes it tempting to forgo this monthly endeavor, especially since it’s easy to think, “No one reads this anyway.”
But then I remember the results of this assessment and the reality that there are people who don’t know our high school youth ministry exists; And there are others who know it exists, but who have no real understanding of it.
That’s the population for whom I write these monthly columns.
As a result, I treat our newsletter not as an opportunity to announce upcoming events (those are for in-house communication – the regular updates that go directly to our youth ministry families), but rather as an opportunity to share vision, to help people understand the why behind the what, and to share stories of how God is moving in and through our youth ministry.
On those weeks when I’m tempted to tell our secretary, “Just skip my column this month”, I try to remember a recent note I got in the mail, from one of the oldest members of our congregation:
I so enjoyed your youth ministry article in our newsletter, written to our church’s seniors. You gave them a message I’m afraid many a parent will not take time to explain – how important a church, their church, can be and will be as they enter adult life. May God continue to guide and bless you in his work.
Through our church’s newsletter, this man got a glimpse of our youth ministry. There’s so much value in that – for our youth ministry and our larger congregation. With that in mind, I’ve got to go write my next article for the church newsletter.
You should, too.