I’m not one to do things the same two weeks in a row, but there has been a more or less standard format to Youth the past few months. It has been pretty successful but I feel like I have a great hang out that 50+ teens enjoy coming to on a regular basis without any real change for their lives. I believe a large part of that is that they aren’t interested in change. I can’t do anything but pray for that, but another big part is that they are largely ignorant.
They don’t know what Jesus is all about. I have done my best to teach them, but the format isn’t really conducive to learning. We have a lot of hang out time and fun things that I plan with a short sermon that I run in a 3 week series. I really like the overall format but I have run into a few big problems.
First, I get yelled at by a group of adults on a regular basis. They are not happy with the kids I have coming into you. I’ll admit they are a challenge but I couldn’t be happier with them. I can say that today because I love them and they haven’t driven my mad in a couple of weeks. Tonight I’ll wish they were well behaved like some of the youth at other churches, but in a couple days I will thank God for sending the ones I’ve prayed for. I’m going out on a limb right now and asking God to send more of the teens that Jesus would spend most of His time with and give me more opportunities to go to them.
Second, we have overlapping ministries where girls and boys who are eligible to attend youth are busy on the regular youth night in another program so they must choose between one program and another. I don’t want to make people choose because I think that there are people that are much better served by the other ministries. On the other hand I think there are students that really need to be in the Youth. If there don’t have to choose then they have the best of both worlds available to them.
Third, there is nothing to do in this town on the weekend that doesn’t lead directly to poor choices. Seriously, the options end up in kids going from one party to the next, getting drunk/stoned and then having sex. It’s a pretty big deal and the single complaint that I’ve heard form teens is that they have nothing to do.
Finally, we don’t have any real discipleship happening the way things are going on Wednesday nights. I do my best to teach them but we need something more specific so I’m working to that end by making Saturday the fun night that will hopefully give a safe, fun environment for teens to go to instead of the other things they would normally be involved with. This will free up Wednesday for a more strategic discipleship program.
Anyone else tried something like this? It is a huge move and I’ve been building to it all summer with movie nights, but the kickoff in a few weeks will mark an absolute change in the program so any advice on making the switch would be much appreciated as well as lots of prayer for a smooth transition.