The focus of this week is Christ’s death and resurrection. The reason for this is sin. Talking about sin has become uncommon not because we are not willing to talk tough but more because it’s not that interesting anymore. It’s had its day in the sun, its 15 minutes of fame, but today people are just not that into it. Sin has become whatever you want it to be. We installed our own definition and watered down the consequences, leading people to believe it wasn’t that important after all. What if Christ lost focus quickly and decided that sin was not that interesting anymore? Even if it’s not cool or in or interesting we still need to stay focused on the cost of sin. If we lose our understanding of sin we run the risk of forgetting the power of the cross. When the cross becomes irrelevant, love becomes irrelevant.
Holy week is a week of worship. As I’ve been thinking about this, I wonder what we have really taught students about worship. Thinking out loud posts are not my favorite but on this topic I don’t really know what is right or wrong or even if there is a wrong. All I know is that most students think worship is singing songs they like. Songs that give them an upbeat feeling about being a Christ follower or ones that make them think about the sacrifice of Christ. How do we get students to really understand what worshiping God with our wholes lives is really about? I think we have to move away from just singing and we need to have a rotation of worship events that focus on all kinds of worship. I think we need to focus on sacrificial giving as part of worship. I know taking offering at youth group is not cool, but could our students sacrifice in worship through giving and are we missing the opportunity to teach them something about a life in Christ if we don’t? I believe we have a awesome opportunity to be creative through worship. Allowing students to use their imagination to worship God with expressions of art can be powerful. How can we make more space for students who want to worship without singing? Often our students are stunted when it comes to creative expression – how do we free their imagination so they can pursue God with all they have? I would love to know what you are doing in your ministry.
I hear it everywhere I go. “My students don’t have the time for youth group. They’re pretty busy with extracurriculars.” Students are so busy these days that they don’t have the time to go to church and connect with other students who love Christ. This is a big deal. Sure, maybe the added activities outside of church will help them get into college, but what then? They’ll fall away. Here are two ideas on how to overcome this obstacle.
Realize this is a parent problem
Create a one-hour parent training workshop on prioritizing for your student. Remember that parents have their students over involved because they think it’s good for them. Help them understand it’s not; remind them that they have the power to change it and what the benefits are of being in a community of believers. Note: one workshop won’t make a difference; you will have to follow it up with articles and resources. Don’t give up; your students need to hear something seven times before they listen, and it’s not much different for parents.
Be creative with meeting times
Every church I visit does youth ministry the same way. I am not sure how this happened but we all feel like we must meet on Sunday at some point and follow that up with a mid-week event. Think outside the box. When and where are your students? How could your adults get more time with them by not having them come to you but you going to them? Church has made huge changes in the past twenty years but has youth ministry followed?
I read an article recently questioning whether youth workers were lazy. The truth is some are and some aren’t, just like every profession. The reason the question is asked is because many in our profession have been lazy. The lazy label didn’t just come from thin air, it’s there because it’s been a problem. Our work activities don’t help either; going to games, having junk-food parties, summer camp and playing paintball don’t often add up to super hard working in most people’s minds. The truth is, hard work is a personal discipline. If you have it, going to games and camp are all part of your mission and bring results like students walking with Christ. If you don’t have it you do all the same activities you just don’t see any results. So which are you: lazy or hard working?
My name is Doug Franklin and I serve youth workers through a ministry called LeaderTreks. I love youth ministry and the people who serve in it. I work with an incredible team creating tools and resources enabling youth workers to develop students into leaders. I want to influence youth workers to challenge students and prepare them for leadership in the kingdom of God.