Top Menu

4 Outside of the Box Program Ideas for Youth Ministry

Outside of the box ideas wanted

Here’s 5 ideas that are outside of the norm for youth group. (Nothing wrong with traditional youth group, just sharing ideas.) My hope is that these ideas will spark you to create programs that your community actually needs as opposed to building your ministry purely on a combination of felt need & what you experienced as a teenager.

4 Outside of the Box Program Ideas for Youth Ministry

  1. Christ-centered after school tutoring – I don’t understand why tutoring isn’t the default youth ministry program for more churches. Many churches have proximity to schools and access to educated adults. While there is decreased funding for education in almost every U.S. state there is actually ample money available (private, state, federal) to fund after school programs, even with a religious component. Starting a tutoring program would be a slam dunk in just about any context. (See Reality Changers for an example of this)
  2. Short courses – One negative of joining a youth group or even small group is that it lasts too long and you don’t know what you’ll get out of it. So why not offer 6-week sessions of a specific course of study? (Specific books of the Bible, overview of the Old Testament, Introduction to Christianity, etc.) Students could earn certificates, cover the cost of their course, and they could really learn a ton while connecting to God. Plus, this would give students an easy way to check Jesus out without a lot of commitment. Or it might just hit a personality type that wants to learn about God without all the other stuff youth group does. (See The Wheel from The Navigators as a historical example of this.)
  3. Leading Christ-centered Learning Experiences – A core competency of many in youth ministry is creating experiences. (Retreats, thematic teaching, mission trips, etc.) So why not make this a program? We anecdotally say that students learn a lot more when we take them on these trips… so why not build a program that does just that? Backpacking, cycling, adventure travel, etc. (Check out Youth Dynamics for the outdoors part and The World Race for the mission part.)
  4. Internships and youth employment – Some churches do this really well (with adults) while others seem to have never thought of it. Why not create a program where you hire high school students to run specific areas of your church? (You could either self-fund this or get outside funding to cover stipends) I also think it’d be cool for churches to partner with small business owners to hire summer employees. The church could provide job training, some oversight, and a Friday afternoon gathering to encourage student employees. I can actually see how the church could house a grant system to help offset the costs of youth employment in the community. Talk about a partnership opportunity! Every service organization in your area would love you if you took the lead on this. (I don’t have an example for this one. If you know of a church doing this well, leave a comment with a link.)

So these are four outside the box ideas I came up with over a cup of coffee. Imagine what your team could come up with if they’ve done some ethnography, evaluation, and prayer

, , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to 4 Outside of the Box Program Ideas for Youth Ministry

  1. KJ January 30, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    “Starting a tutoring program would be a slam dunk in just about any context.”

    ….emphasis on “just about any”. We tried…we tried really, really hard a few years ago. We had close to 20 current and retired teachers committed, we advertised like crazy in church bulletin, at local schools, etc. we had an incredible space dedicated to it and it flopped.

    It felt like a slam dunk to us, too. But we managed to clank the ball off the rim BIG TIME. Would love to learn where we went wrong.

    • Adam McLane January 30, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      Were you doing it at the church or somewhere really close to a school? (Just curious.)

      • KJ January 30, 2013 at 10:44 am #

        Church….but it is very close to 2 schools.

  2. Austin McCann January 30, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Love the tutoring idea! We have some killer high school students that could be tutors for middle school students!

  3. Shae Pepper- Youth Workin' It January 31, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    Adam these are fantastic ideas! We feel really strongly about youth ministry branching out into other areas that, while still be spiritually focused w/ a development on faith, look at it from a different perspective.

    I love the idea of combining a 6 week program w/ a service oriented experience that lives it out practically throughout or at the end… i.e. some good Samaritan learning for 6 weeks and then a practical project to help the sick or under-served.

    With the tutoring, I’m not 100% about it being in the church building every time, but if other places are anything like my city, the local Housing Authority probably has a community center in their areas and a need for tutoring the youth. So a church could choose the closest community or apartment complex that is nearest them to partner with and offer the programs there.

    I would also say you could start a community garden program on church property if there is space. Learning about the earth God created, how nutrition impacts your physical and spiritual life and how to serve others through that ministry might be a great tool to connect with local partners like the 4-H club, scouting groups, the local gardening clubs (ours is called Virginia Cooperative Extension) and many more.

  4. GeraldNC January 31, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    Adam I love what you’ve been posting these past few blogs! I’m right there with ya on several of the ideas, though I do not lead a ministry. I’ve volunteered for over 10 years. I’ve thought of my own program including an after school opportunity that would include tutoring but offer more as well. I picture a gaming area, tv, quiet space to just hang, all of this offering a safe location for teens to hang out a few afternoons of the week. One of these days brother, one of these days…

  5. Daniel Griswold February 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    I’ve had great success with having older youth coming on in internships and helping lead up the youth ministries we have. I’ve also seen youth take over certain ministries and really take off with it. I like the courses idea that you put up. If there were a good group of people who are passionate about teaching/creating/growing with youth – that can be powerful. I do that every year in a course I consider Basic Christianity and the History of Methodism, but we call it “Confirmation” ;D

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What camp/retreat center do you go to? - YouthMin.org - March 7, 2013

    […] 4 Outside of the Box Program Ideas for Youth Ministry […]

  2. Top 10 Youth Work Blog Posts Of The Week - Feb 2 - April 29, 2013

    […] Adam McLane: 4 outside of the box program ideas for youth ministry – All week, Adam’s been writing about programs in youth ministry. Here, he’s […]

  3. Think Outside the Box - June 10, 2014

    […] Click here to read three more ideas! […]

Leave a Reply

st_date < '2013-01-30 08:19:10' AND p.post_type = 'post' AND p.post_status = 'publish' ORDER BY p.post_date DESC LIMIT 1 94 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 12215 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 12841 LIMIT 1 95 | 0.0006 | enabled | not cached | 634 | SELECT p.ID FROM wp_posts AS p WHERE p.post_date > '2013-01-30 08:19:10' AND p.post_type = 'post' AND p.post_status = 'publish' ORDER BY p.post_date ASC LIMIT 1 96 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 13105 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 12859 LIMIT 1 97 | 0.0008 | enabled | not cached | 15129 | SELECT * FROM wp_comments WHERE ( comment_approved = '1' ) AND comment_post_ID = 12849 ORDER BY wp_comments.comment_date_gmt ASC, wp_comments.comment_ID ASC 98 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 1413 | SELECT comment_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_commentmeta WHERE comment_id IN (15717) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 99 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 1413 | SELECT comment_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_commentmeta WHERE comment_id IN (15723) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 100 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 545 | SELECT option_value FROM wp_options WHERE option_name = 'highlander_comment_form_prompt' LIMIT 1 101 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 548 | SELECT option_value FROM wp_options WHERE option_name = 'jetpack_comment_form_color_scheme' LIMIT 1 102 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 819 | SELECT wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND ((wp_posts.post_status = 'publish')) ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 5 103 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 34846 | SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE ID IN (16477,16471,16462,16458,16452) 104 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 5476 | SELECT t.*, tt.*, tr.object_id FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category', 'post_tag', 'post_format') AND tr.object_id IN (16452, 16458, 16462, 16471, 16477) ORDER BY t.name ASC 105 | 0.0013 | enabled | not cached | 12684 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (16452,16458,16462,16471,16477) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 106 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 8633 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 16479 LIMIT 1 107 | 0.0009 | enabled | not cached | 2227 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (16479) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 108 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 8693 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 16473 LIMIT 1 109 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 2301 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (16473) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 110 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 8624 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 16463 LIMIT 1 111 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 2213 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (16463) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 112 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 8682 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 16459 LIMIT 1 113 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 2284 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (16459) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 114 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 8688 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 16453 LIMIT 1 115 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 2291 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (16453) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 116 | 0.0011 | enabled | not cached | 820 | SELECT wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND ((wp_posts.post_status = 'publish')) ORDER BY wp_posts.comment_count DESC LIMIT 0, 5 117 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 38667 | SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE ID IN (14022,3657,5047,10468,4746) 118 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 12103 | SELECT t.*, tt.*, tr.object_id FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category', 'post_tag', 'post_format') AND tr.object_id IN (3657, 4746, 5047, 10468, 14022) ORDER BY t.name ASC 119 | 0.001 | enabled | not cached | 10609 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (3657,4746,5047,10468,14022) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 120 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 8703 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 15362 LIMIT 1 121 | 0.0005 | enabled | not cached | 2674 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (15362) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 122 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 8670 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 12335 LIMIT 1 123 | 0.0005 | enabled | not cached | 2719 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (12335) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 124 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 8663 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 15365 LIMIT 1 125 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 2032 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (15365) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 126 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 8669 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 10484 LIMIT 1 127 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 2093 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (10484) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 128 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 8636 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 4747 LIMIT 1 129 | 0.0004 | enabled | not cached | 2235 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (4747) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 130 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 10191 | SELECT * FROM wp_comments WHERE ( comment_approved = '1' ) ORDER BY wp_comments.comment_date_gmt DESC LIMIT 5 131 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 2990 | SELECT comment_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_commentmeta WHERE comment_id IN (18406) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 132 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 13220 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 16275 LIMIT 1 133 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 6241 | SELECT * FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_ID = 18406 LIMIT 1 134 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 6049 | SELECT * FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_ID = 18405 LIMIT 1 135 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 12084 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 2716 LIMIT 1 136 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 6126 | SELECT * FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_ID = 18403 LIMIT 1 137 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 10742 | SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 13762 LIMIT 1 138 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 6096 | SELECT * FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_ID = 18402 LIMIT 1 139 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 3130 | SELECT comment_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_commentmeta WHERE comment_id IN (18400) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 140 | 0.0002 | enabled | not cached | 6292 | SELECT * FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_ID = 18400 LIMIT 1 141 | 0.0005 | enabled | not cached | 14893 | SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('post_tag') AND tt.count > 0 ORDER BY tt.count DESC LIMIT 45 142 | 0.0002 | disabled (query) | not cached | 0 | SELECT display_meta, notifications FROM wp_rg_form_meta WHERE form_id=13 143 | 0.0002 | disabled (query) | not cached | 0 | SELECT confirmations FROM wp_rg_form_meta WHERE form_id = 13 144 | 0.0062 | disabled (query) | not cached | 0 | SELECT id FROM wp_rg_form_view WHERE form_id=13 AND year(date_created) = year(utc_timestamp()) AND month(date_created) = month(utc_timestamp()) AND day(date_created) = day(utc_timestamp()) AND hour(date_created) = hour(utc_timestamp()) 145 | 0.0003 | disabled (query) | not cached | 0 | UPDATE wp_rg_form_view SET count = count+1 WHERE id=32428 146 | 0.0002 | disabled (query) | not cached | 0 | SELECT * FROM wp_rg_form WHERE id=13 AND is_trash = 0 147 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 634 | SELECT option_value FROM wp_options WHERE option_name = '_transient_timeout_feed_4e9278bbebd0874b65f52c75cd92774f' LIMIT 1 148 | 0.0013 | enabled | not cached | 51787 | SELECT option_value FROM wp_options WHERE option_name = '_transient_feed_4e9278bbebd0874b65f52c75cd92774f' LIMIT 1 149 | 0.0005 | enabled | not cached | 638 | SELECT option_value FROM wp_options WHERE option_name = '_transient_timeout_feed_mod_4e9278bbebd0874b65f52c75cd92774f' LIMIT 1 150 | 0.0003 | enabled | not cached | 630 | SELECT option_value FROM wp_options WHERE option_name = '_transient_feed_mod_4e9278bbebd0874b65f52c75cd92774f' LIMIT 1 -->