Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Our Student Ministry Service Times

Did you know that I oversee Jr. High (Turnpike), High School (Catalyst) and College (Re:action) ministries?

According to some amazing leaders that is a great thing. Why? Because I am able to see what's happening to them in the next step of their development. I can see what we might need to change in the previous environment to get better results. Don't get me wrong...I know, as well as you, that God does all the work. But he works through us. That's his chosen method...through the church, through his people. So we listen and we obey him.

Traditionally, college ministry is organized in it's own little corner, without much interaction with the rest of the church. I can tell you that we are graduating students from Catalyst that are actually digging in and wanting to create a core college group. They are excited to bring their friends to a new environment. They are just excited to hang out together.

I say all this to let you know that there is a reason we do our ministries at certain times and on certain days. There's no spiritual secret to's out of necessity. Let me explain:

Our Jr. High meets at 10:45 on Sundays because they are most likely to come to the church building at that time, during that service. They would like to sleep later if they could. They would not be awake during the 9 o'clock service and it would be very difficult for them to pay attention any earlier than our second service time.

Our High School meets at 4:30 on Sundays because...well, look at my schedule.
In case you can't read the times...that's 7am - 7:30pm. And I joyfully do it.

Our College ministry meets at 7:30 on Mondays because tests haven't really started that early in the week, Sunday nights are out because we have high school and there are usually no sport-team practices on Monday nights for our students. They picked the time by process of elimination.

I am very careful about burn-out. I've seen, known and read the stories of many, many youth workers, youth pastors, and student ministry guys that do way too much. Now because of that and other strategic reasons, we have chosen not to be an event-driven church. And we have chosen not to be a stuff-driven student ministry. Generally that model of ministry is called "Youth Ministry" and I grew up in that atmosphere and it worked ok for me. But today is a new culture.

I didn't have things planned every night of the week. I wasn't in sports. I had a lot of free time. Our students don't have a lot of free time. They are involved in sports, as well as other clubs and events. They don't have a lot of free time. I realize that's a generalization, but it's the majority of our students. We have chosen not to do things during the week all the time and here's three reasons:

1. We don't want to be yet another thing that splits up the family during the week.
2. I don't want to burn out on activities/stuff.
3. I have not seen many long-term positive results from a mid-week activity.

We are drawing a new picture here at NHC. We are forming a new way of doing things. A way that doesn't push and pull your students all over the place. A sanctuary for them to get away from the stresses of their very-hectic lives. A small group leader for every one of them that cares for them deeply. A small group leader that will plan a once-a-month gathering for their group...that I'm not facilitating and that they can plan together around their schedules. An environment that is, as one student told me recenlty, "chill" and non-threatening. A service that has excellent worship and great Communicators. We work very hard to create an environment for your student. Does that sound like something you want to support? Does that sound like something that you've been wanting all along for your student?

We have limited space and human resources. We do the best we can with what we've got. So, what am I asking you to do? I'm asking you to be a cheerleader. I'm asking you to build up our student ministry to each other. I'm asking you to ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM. The worst thing you can do to the church is talk amongst yourselves about what you don't like or what you'd change. What does that communicate to other parents or visitors? Let's be united for the common goal of leading students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ so that when they graduate high school, they don't graduate their faith.

That's what we are working towards for your students.

If you'd like to support our student ministry the top three things you can do are:
1. Pray for us.
2. Show your support by encouraging your students to be there (talk it up to them and to others - build a buzz).
3. Volunteer as a small group leader and/or Communicator.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for explaining all this. It helps as a parent to see were you will be leading our kids.
The 3 steps in supporting student ministry is important too!!

As a small group leader it helps me understand my role better!!

Thanks for all your hard work!
I hope you enjoy your weekend with Erica & your friends.

Alicia Negri

Micah Foster said...

thanks Alicia...

I got another comment, but I've decided not to publish them unless a name is attached...because it could be anyone from anywhere in the world chiming in on our family business here at NHC.

Plus I'd like to be able to follow up with that person...

always remember that you can email me personally or call the office.

Please put your names on your comment.

Anonymous said...

I think that is exactly what parents need to have in their hands quarterly. Maybe put that in the bulletin this week or send it home. We are on the same team and want to just see our child become a devoted, active, disciple of Christ.
~Juli Thornton

Luke Mundy said...

Micah, I love how you're using the blog to inform and include parents! Sounds like there are some great things happening at NHC!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate all of your hard work and your efforts to communicate with parents. I agree with most of what you said, but I do have some additional thoughts: 1) Doing all three (Jr, Sr, College) is a LOT, and I think we are big enough to warrant additional help so you don't have to do all three. (Even if you love doing it, your schedule appears unbelievably packed!) 2) I think we need a place for the high school kids during Sunday services. We've made all of our children a priority on Sunday mornings, except the high school kids. They are getting the "leftover time" at 4:30. Choosing a time by process of elimination doesn't seem to be making them a priority. 3) You have to go to church, so you can't do a 9:00 and a 10:45 service, so maybe someone else needs to take one of the groups so the high school group can be included in our priorities on Sunday mornings.

Okay, these are just my two-cent-comments. On a side note, I have heard a lot of discussion about the high school group times, and I want to clarify that none of it has been gossipy or caddy in any way. Everyone I have spoken with is looking for solutions and information, and everyone wants what is best for our kids. So, please don't feel like parents are "talking amongst themselves" in a negative way. Rather, they have been searching for information and help in understanding what is and is not available for their teens.

Hope these thoughts help!
:)Michelle Bowden

Micah Foster said...


I believe that it would actually be making our students less important if we did not give them their own space and time. We would be shortening their time together and trying to make them fit into our mornings. They need more time than an hour. They need some hang time and some extended small group time. It's not a matter of the church not making them a priority. They wouldn't have hired me if they weren't making them a priority.

But thank you for your comments. I hope that makes you feel a little more at ease about the fact that we care very much about our students and that's why we do what we do.

Michelle Bowden said...

Hey, Micah...

I agree that having that extra time is great and necessary; I just wish there were a way to have it and still include the high schoolers in Sunday mornings. I have looked at the models that we are following both at the church you visited last weekend and the one back East, and I can see how what we're doing works within that model. I'm hoping that as we develop and mature as a church, all these little wrinkles will be ironed out. It is difficult to change and adjust and grow, but hopefully the model we are following will work well for the teens. It's just a matter of time and patience, I'm sure.

On another note, your blog gave me the impression that you don't feel supported by the parents, and I want to assure you that everyone I've spoken to about the high school group has been very positive and asked for ways to support and encourage you and build the group. The only need I have heard anyone speak of is more communication, but even that has been questions and wanting information, never anything negative about you or the program. I know you are working hard to improve communication for Catalyst, and it really seems to be working. As a parent, I feel SO MUCH MORE in the loop now than I did last year. You have some big cheerleaders both in the parents and on staff with you, and they all want you to be successful with Catalyst. They also pray for you and Erica and the group regularly and encourage other parents to get involved and get to know you as a leader. I hope knowing this will help you begin to feel more supported and encouraged in your efforts. You have a lot more people standing beside you than you may realize. :)Michelle

Micah Foster said...


thanks for the kind words. you're right, i don't know who is standing beside me.

i'm hoping to improve communication to the point where every parent can feel they are in the loop.

have fun on vacation!