Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 123: Youth Ministry Summer Shut Down?


Time to tee one up as a youth pastor "has been". The youth pastor days were a blast for me as we saw the youth group grow exponentially in a smaller church. Typically large youth groups at large churches are celebrated...however, seeing a youth group of 70+ in a church of 110 or so would constitute killer growth. God was doing some great things. When I moved to Waupaca the youth group started with 6 teens and within 6 months we were up to 20+ because of what God was doing. Within those 6 months we also had 80+ teens attending our bi-weekly outreaches. There was one common factor though in my years of youth group that helped our growth....THE SUMMER TIME.

It seems that typically a church sees pretty good growth in the spring of each year. I was blown away by the growth we experienced this summer at our church. It was kind of odd but hey...GO GOD! Getting back to youth group growth...it was always logical to me that the summer was not the time to shut down a youth ministry. I will be honest with you though, I was always a little jealous of those churches that let their youth pastor shut down the youth ministry for the summer. Not doing any youth ministry and still getting paid? SWEET! However, it just never made a stitch of sense to me why a youth group would shut down during a time when teens are utterly bored and do not have a whole lot to do.

The summer was a time that brought out my "A Game" as we ramped up the youth services, events, etc. On any given summer you could always expect a trip to Six Flags Great America, whitewater rafting, etc. We did alot of free things as well. It was a pick and choose for the events we offered. I remember the last 4 years we would do a BIG back to school trip. The first year was Panama City Beach Florida. The second year was Daytona Beach, Florida. For our third year we tried our hand at camping in Yellowstone National Park. It was fun but don't assume because it is summer you don't need to pack warm clothes up there....it got down to 30+ degrees each night. The last year we went to New York City and attended church at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Other youth pastors would ask me, "what kind of mission work did you do on these trips?" My answer? "NOTHING!" These were just great times that built up friendships in the youth group which from my observation really stuck. The memories and times we had helped make friendships that last a lifetime. We did have devotionals but I was a firm believer that you could go on a trip or do events that really had nothing to do with "okay kids, let's have our Jesus time." THE WHOLE TIME WAS JESUS TIME! As far as I know as I look back at the youth group I had the privilege of leading that many are still plugged into the church and many more have gone into vocational ministry.

It is my opinion that summer is the best time for growth in a youth ministry. I will end with a very opinionated statement. If a youth group is being shut down on the summers because there is typically no growth and youth aren't showing up...it may not be the teens fault the program is boring. Just sayin.

ps...I got this piece of clip-art off google. If I got it from your churches website...just say "NO" to clip-art.

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