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 it...it'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.