I am so thankful for the youth ministry training I have been getting from my school, Piedmont Baptist College. With all the youth ministry classes I have already taken and all the experiences I have had working in youth ministry so far I’m starting to get a deeper conviction that youth ministry in the world today needs to take it up a notch. Everyday I am amazed at all the stuff that is being thrown into the hands and life’s of students of all ages. With all of the new gadgets, sports, etc. that is being thrown at our students, where is the youth ministry at during all this. I feel as though students have a million voices pulling them from music, tv, computers, cell phones, sports and youth ministry is being drowned out by all of that. I am not saying that youth ministry isn’t being another voice, but that our voice is not even close to the level that all that other stuff is. Why don’t youth ministry at least level out with those things and be an equal voice? Or better yet, why not push that youth ministry is the loudest voice? We do have the life changing Gospel that students need and want. I am not saying that youth ministry should become all about entertainment and should “dumb down” its message to be like all the other voices. But we should make sure we are doing are very best at making youth ministry a major voice in the life’s of students. These thoughts have been racing through my mind the past few days because of a conversation I had with a young boy the other day. I will tell you about it.
On Tuesday I had an opportunity to go ice skating with the youth group of the church I will be interning at next fall, Weymouth Community Church. I have been in Ohio for the past week spending Christmas with my girlfriend and her family and she goes to this church. We went to this ice skating event because her little brother is in the youth group and it was a good time for me to connect more with the church and meet some of the students. I introduced myself to a young boy names Josh. After a few minutes I realized this kid loved one thing, football. He plays it, watches it, reads about it, and pretty much live football. I must admit he was a genius when it came to anything about football. I enjoyed talking to him about football and about his favorite team. Then I asked about youth group. I asked if he liked it and he replied with a very excited yes! I could tell he enjoyed youth group and I know the youth pastor there is doing a great job. But then Josh said something to me I will never forget. He said, “I like it, but it is not as fun as football and scouts.” I was speechless for a second and let what he said sink in. After I talked to him a little more he went off and continued ice skating. I could not get his statement out of my head. All I could, and still, can think about is youth ministry, not putting down that churches youth ministry but talking about youth ministry in a whole, is losing the battle against football and other recreational activities. Josh said it plain and simple, he enjoys, as with many other students, football rather than youth group. What does football and other activities like that have that is pulling students right and left, but we can’t seem to get them to enjoy youth group or even get them there? Here are three things I see that football and other activities like that have that students enjoy:
Friendships-They enjoy playing football because they get to hang out with their friends. They get to practice daily with their friends on their team and get to play in games with them. Simply put, they enjoy football because they get to be with their friends.
Excitement-Give students something to get excited about and they will love it. Who would argue for most youth boys football is awesome. Getting to play it is even better. The excitement that is around students sports is high and of course students, and parents, love it!
Ownership-I believe this is the biggest reasons students love football and other sports. Because they don’t just come and watch, but they get to play and be involved.
I believe those three areas, as strong as they are in football and other activities for students, are weak in our youth groups across the world. Out of the the friendships tend to be ok, but the friendships tend to be shallow and weak. We do not push excitement, but insist that too much excitement is not Biblical, but we need to make youth group one of the most exciting things ever in a student’s life. Lastly, ownership is very low in our youth groups. Students will continue to come and enjoy our youth groups if we give them ownership. Let them lead the praise band and be in the band, let them run media and sound, let them lead games and let them be highly involved.
After my conversation with Josh these are just a few thoughts that have been running through my mind. Why should we not try to make youth group the most exciting, high energy, fun time that student’s experience weekly? We can’t we provide activities that promote healthy friendships? Why don’t we allow our students to have ownership and let it be their youth group? I’m not saying we sacrifice good Bible teaching to our students, but we make make our youth groups top notch and much better to compete with the other voices so that the Bible and the Scriptures are being heard by our students? You might disagree and I might have not made much sense throughout this post, but God has been giving me a deeper and greater passion for youth ministry over the past few months.