Towards Holistic Youth Ministry

degrees-360I’ve been blogging the Harbor Mid-City journey as we head towards a launch of student ministry. Up until now in the life cycle of the church plant youth ministry has always been around– part of the DNA– but never emerged as a priority. That’s changing rapidly as the church has formed to the point where ministering to adolescents is bubbling to the top of needs.

Here is where we are:

– We are doing a “soft launch” next Tuesday. 8-10 students are coming to one of the pastors house where we will eat dinner, get to know one another, we’ll crack open the Bible, and break off into discussion groups.

– We’ve got a core team of 4 to start “youth group” with. (That doesn’t seem like the right term, but it’s what we have.)

– We are creating a ministry aimed at ministering to the whole needs of our students. So Tuesday night youth group is really just one part of the greater sum of what we’re doing. We already offer mentorship, we’ll be adding to that academic help, regular community service projects, leadership development, and family assistance and probably more stuff as we go. The antithesis of what we’re after is entertainment.

– For now, we’re focusing on high school and recent graduates. The church has a pretty solid kids ministry and for now, that’s where the middle schoolers will be ministered to.

– For the first quarter, we are meeting in a house. But an early goal is to secure a meeting site somewhere more suitable.

– Unlike anywhere else I’ve worked with students… getting rides is a big deal.

– The concept of plural leadership seems to be in the DNA of what we’re creating. I’ve committed to leading up to 25%. For now that means I’m in charge of content. (Either teaching or lining up the teaching, but helping develop the content for the group.)

– There’s a lot of excitement as we get started. I’d call it naive but the truth is that there’s a lot of experience in the leadership group. We know what we’re getting into and we’re pumped at what God is doing!

– I think it’s a good idea that we don’t have all of the details, vision, and particulars nailed. Since we already have a solid group of students to launch with… it just seems better to launch with what we have and line-up the rest as we go.

– We are looking to learn. I’m picking the brains of the urban youth workers I know, putting feelers out to meet more, and our team is all doing the same thing. We know we aren’t inventing something even though it feels like it.

– Yes, we have a sexy acronymn for what we’re doing. I just can’t remember it.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

3 comments

  1. “For the first quarter, we are meeting in a house. But an early goal is to secure a meeting site somewhere more suitable.”

    More suitable? I’d love to meet in a house every week. 🙂 Older kids are more likely to respect the homes; I can see how middle school kids might need “somewhere more suitable.” Are you expecting to just have too many kids for a living room meeting? Just trying to figure out your situation. 🙂

    “Unlike anywhere else I’ve worked with students… getting rides is a big deal.”

    Sounds like my town. No one, not even my high schoolers, have licenses. I do a lot of ride-giving myself. Luckily, a good group of kids are close enough they can walk/skate/bike. Some kids come and don’t even tell their parents where they are. Some parents don’t care. But that’s a different issue! 😀

    “It just seems better to launch with what we have and line-up the rest as we go.”

    I agree. As the NLT translation words Eccl. 11:4 “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” I tell my leaders that doing ministry is like running toward a cliff not 100% sure your hang glider is ready to fly.

  2. @nick- two problems with a house. (not to devalue your statement, our situation is just a little different.) first, we don’t think we’ll be at 8-10 students for long. we’re in an urban setting and we do LOTS in the neighborhood. The 8-10 are students we’ve been in mentoring relationships “accidentally.” With something more intentional we think we’ll outgrow the house within a quarter. second, the goal of this ministry is holistic… a home is limiting to the vision of a place to do homework, get counseling, community outreach center, etc.

    We’re pumped. I sent out the notes to the first talk. I love the angle we’re coming at on this whole project. It lines up with my heart and what I’ve expressed here on the blog.

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