I have talked on and off and rather briefly about my involvement with Youth and as we started back for the year I want to re-introduce you to what’s gone on and what is happening.
Last year kicked off well, I became involved about three or four weeks in as a fill-in and shortly after joined the team as they were pretty desperate for female leaders. By the last term we were plodding through with much lower motivation and a more, ‘lets have fun’ mindset to the evening in a vain attempt to get a few more kids along. We hit an all time low with only four of the ‘most-regulars’ showing up on a Friday and figured we clearly weren’t doing something right.
Our church does not have a paid youth pastor position and to honest if it was financially possible, could probably use someone. Geoff does most of the heading up – he’s been involved for a long time and he would agree that he’s better suited to running Sunday morning youth (which he does a brilliant job on) than Friday nights. As it currently stands of us all involved make for good team players but no one (except possibly one of the other guys) is much of a position to take it all on board.
Geoff has been talking about giving up on attractional based youth which is very much the game plan for this year and a few months ago Soul Survivor called us up and volunteered to ‘run an evening’.
That eventuated last night.
I went down at 5:30pm to open up for them and after setting off the alarm…hohum. They asked me how many kids might show up, to which I replied, “Probably not that many”. I came back and felt decidedly not all that thrilled and really just, crap about the coming evening.
By the end of the evening we’d had ~15 kids show up, a really positive worship time and the kids ended up praying for the leaders, meaning we all split up. God was clearly doing something amazing, we had kids opening up a fair bit, taking risks in letting us know what they thought God was saying, really praying and some deep and significant questions being asked.
I managed to commandeer the three new year 7 girls and although a bit shy about the praying thing we had an insanely good chat from suffering to prayer to ‘weird stuff the Holy Spirit does’ to what we are to God to listening to Him. It was big and quite fun answering and letting them know what I thought.
We were all greatly encouraged and I think are beginning to feel like perhaps that with God we can actually do this thing. The kids are for in the most part at a point where this is altogether necessary – the ‘more fun’ aspect didn’t necessarily go to waste but it’s time has passed.
Please pray for the youth ministry, the kids and those involved in leading.
I believe that this year, 2007, will be a significant year for your youth ministry! God is doing something in Melbourne Bec. And it’s not limited to just a few churches, He wants to move powerfully in all the churches, in all denominations.
Keep seeking God, keep asking God what does HE want to do for each week. Avoid the route of doing the same ol same ol cos “it worked last week”.. but really keep prayer as a focus and ask the Holy Spirit what does He want to do for that week.
I’m so excited for you! I really believe that as you keep stepping out as a leader, not only is this youth ministry going to grow, but you as a person will grow.
Bec thanks so much for this post, as a parent of one of the girls who attended on Friday night it is great to hear a leader’s perspective on how it went. My daughter told me that she had a great night and the worship was really good, so too the speaker. With the risk of being argumentative couldn’t you also describe Friday night as fun, it sounds like fun, hanging out with God, worshipping Him and praying for each other? Isn’t this attractional, or have I confused what attractional is? Now I am coming from a parent perspective so please excuse my bias, I don’t have a problem with my teenager attending youth because it is fun, especially when she is hanging out with wonderful leaders/people, like you and Geoff and learning about God, worship and prayer. Can’t youth group be a combination of fun and discipleship? As a parent I get a little nervous and concerned when Geoff talks about “blowing away kids perceptions that the world is a lovely, happy state;” and is considering “calling them to see the brokenness and hurt of humanityâ€™s current state”. Isn’t the world depressing enough, won’t they learn that as they grow and develop? Now I’m not saying we should mislead them or lie to them but I do hope we can tread carefully with them. I am happy for you to put me back in my box about some of these things. Again thanks for this post it helped me to rest a little, you guys are doing an awesome job (you would probably be surprised at how much positive influence you are having.) and I for one want to thank you and Geoff very much for all you do. So Thanks.
haha I was wondering as I hit ‘post’ if the whole ‘fun’ thing would come up and I’m quite aware and know I have failed to mention that hanging out with God is fun and I am of no doubt that youth group should involve ‘fun’ in all sorts of ways. My intent was just not with the focus on entertainment and a structured (or otherwise) babysitting/hang out time. You’re on the money, youth needs to be a combination of ‘fun’ and discipleship or else it sucks and fails. I guess how last year played out was that we did tend to lean much more toward the ‘fun’ side of things and are now attempting to ‘fix and get the balance’. I’m guessing that Geoff (correct me if I”m wrong Geoff) is stressing the need to show in a real and authentic way how a Christian should live in a world that it’s not all roses and how being a Christian often doesn’t contribute to ease and passive enjoyment. I sincerely hope and pray that we don’t forget at all to share the joy and the amazing thing that living with knowing God is. My greatest thrill is when kids share openly with what’s going on and to be able to speak some truth into that and be along-side them. It is what is remembered (as far as my youth group experiences go) and what counts. We do need to tread carefully but also honestly. It’s a difficult balance. Kids are asking those questions about ‘why does God allow us to suffer’ and oddly that’s what seems to come up the most frequently. I’d hope that youth serves as a place to at least be somewhere where those (and any) questions can be freely asked and discussed and a place where we can share those triumphs, some laughs and some really positive relationships.
Just to have a go at this one – I guess what we’re really hoping to change is how much of the youth is just about keeping our teenagers “entertained”. So yes, we absolutely want our kids to be having a really great time, but if we have our kids just having a good time in the same way as they have a great time watching TV, then we’re seriously missing something. But if we get them to start connecting with God, sharing this life journey together, and encouraging one another in learning more about Jesus – that’s something that will have long term value.
I hope I haven’t alarmed you too much Rhonda: my comments about “blowing away their perceptions” have got a lot to do with my own experiences of being in a very “nice” Christian school. I’m just very aware that in that type of environment, it becomes very easy for the Christian faith to be reduced to some type of anti-depressant, where Jesus should just make you happy all the time. My intent is not to depress our teenagers, nor to weigh them down, but instead to help them see just how badly this world needs the redemption of Jesus. The group of teenagers we have now has so much that God has put in them, and I desperately want to see them out there using that. It’s about helping our teenagers to have a faith that is very real, genuine and that has an outward application.
Not sure that I’ll have completely re-assured you, and I really do want to challenge our teenagers, because I firmly believe that they’ve got what it takes to make a massive change to the world around them. We really, really appreciate the support from parents, and it’s great to be hearing feedback from you.
Hey Bec & Geoff, thanks for responding to a possibly over anxious parent of a teenager.
I am enjoying reading both your blogs. I feel a bit spoilt as I appreciate that you have probably got better things to do with your time than reassure me! Yes you have reassured me!
I am also enjoying being able to talk to you here knowing that this post is old enough that we are probably the only ones still reading it.
I guess where I am coming from is that lately I have become very aware of just how full on it is for teenagers (Christian and non Christians) living in this world of ours. There is an immense pressure to be, look and perform a certain way, and I have discovered that this is just as prevalent in a Christian school environment as it is in a non Christian one. Darn it! I guess I can’t get past the desire for our teenagers to have a place that is completely safe from teenage pressure and challenges. Although I understand where you are both coming from and I too want them to have a faith that is “real, genuine and has an outward application” I just don’t want that to become another performance issue for them.