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.
I have a fervent belief that if we want to reach a post-Christian society, we have to be Good News before someone will listen to Good News.
I asked some teachers, “How could a local church be Good News to your public school?” Here are 10 of their ideas.
- Create a team that participates at every school board meeting. Your presence at meetings, without bringing forward issues, will communicate to the decision makers that your church cares.
- Sponsor a community-wide clean-up day during the Fall and Spring semester. If you lead the charge, other churches and community organizations will join forces.
- Ask teachers to post individual classroom needs on Donors Choose, and then ask church members to help fund things that will go directly to the classroom.
- Set-up a tutoring program that meets in your building after school. (Example) You don’t have to be a certified teacher to help kids with math, science, and reading homework.
- Ask your congregation to strategically send their children to public schools. Resist the temptation to home school or send children to a private school. Instead, ask the congregation to invest that time and money into their children’s individual classrooms.
- Schools are often lacking volunteers for events. Meet with the principal early in the Fall and find out which events need help.
- Have the church cover any expenses for background checks or medical tests related to volunteering in schools. Sometimes the smallest obstacle becomes the biggest excuse!
- Once a month, provide treats to the school staff. Every school has a teachers lounge and every employee of the school will appreciate if you provide a bagels or a healthy lunch snack. (Don’t just bless the teachers, bring enough for everyone!) Trust me, this will make even the most hardcore staff smile.
- Many districts have cut spending on arts and music. Have your worship leader work with local administrators to set-up workshops, after school, or any opportunity for children to get exposure to art and music.
- Find out what projects are important at a school and help provide the supplies. If they have a garden, make sure they have tools. If they are allowing children to paint murals, make sure they have the paint they want.
Want to get started? Pick one and let me know how it goes!
These are my ideas. What are yours?
Many of these ideas came from classroom teachers. Special thanks to Erin, Annie, and Paul for speaking into this post.
I was so distracted by convention last week that I failed to really process/understand/comprehend an e-mail I got about our brand new youth ministry. It’s really cool to see people get on board with what we are trying to do.
Background: About 6 weeks ago I had lunch with two pastors at Harbor Mid-City. Basically, they felt like the time was now to form something more substantial. Christine Brinn had done an amazing job with some of the young women and created an awesome model for mentorship. We wanted to build on that and reach more students. So we quickly formed a team, had 3-4 meetings, and launched last week with a handful of students. Idea-to-launch in 6 weeks. Stellar.
What we want to do: Our dream is for this thing to be Good News in a holistic way. You can’t be in this neighborhood and think that a youth ministry can just be about teaching the Bible. So we want to meet practical needs… as many as possible. Stuff like, making sure our students get a good meal experience with us. We want to offer educational tutoring. We want to offer leadership development. We want to offer family services. And we want to provide a more substantial level of mentorship than we currently can handle. And we want to get all of that started yesterday because the need is so great.
The problem: Practically speaking that’s an awesome dream. But as I’ve said a bunch of times… an unfunded vision is just a dream and when we said what we wanted the vision to look like we were really just dreaming. We had 4 adults. We had no where to meet. We didn’t have tutors or mentors for everyone. Pretty much all of the vision was laid out in faith that somehow, in time, God would provide.
How God hooked us up! This church moves quick… have you noticed? I got an email from Kathy that outlines two amazing things. First, a church in City Heights has made their building available to us. That’s amazing stuff right there! Not only did we get hooked up on a place to meet– we can use it tonight! Second, Kathy made a pitch to InterVarsity over at San Diego State to students about getting involved by offering educational tutoring to students in the neighborhood. That’s right, you guessed it… our tutoring ministry kicks off NEXT WEEK!
Building momentum towards the rest: These are two awesome things. A place to meet and a gaggle of people wanting to help teach is awesome. Those two things make the dream a little more of a reality. But there are also new challenges ahead. We still need access to family services. We still need people to help provide the stuff these kids need. We still need more mentors. And, of course, all of that stuff requires money we don’t have.
But for now, I’m celebrating!