By Emily Robbins
About three weeks ago, I stood up in front of our Church Council to make a report about what is happening in the youth ministry. I looked at all of the expectant faces and I said, “There are a lot of amazing things happening these days in our youth ministry but before I tell you about them – I have to tell you – our youth are tired and overwhelmed with responsibility. This morning before Sunday School when I asked teenagers how they were – each responded with, ‘I am tired’.
I believe that it is my job as their Youth Minister to help them find ways to say no, to slow down and to not offer too many opportunities here at the church that they feel they have to or want to attend. I can tell you now that our church has a different opportunity for our youth to participate in every weekend in February. Every weekend. Are we helping them and their families or hurting them by having so much to do? I don’t have the answers to all of this but I want to ask all of you to please be in prayer with me as I, along with the youth leadership, figure this out…”
When I look at our schedule and I try to discern what amazing ministries to include and which ones to get rid of – it is often hard because there are many amazing opportunities for our teens to experience Christ’s love. But we just can’t say yes to them all.
How do you decide which ones to include in your schedule?
Here are a few values that are important to me as we decide which activities to say yes to.
- Interest – Do the youth want to do it? I ask them. I let them give input. I may still decide to try something that they are hesitant about but that’s when it’s our job to get them excited about the unknown. We have to be excited about it ourselves as well!
- Sacrifice – I love it when our teenagers learn to give beyond themselves. That they realize that they can sacrifice and don’t hesitate to do it again. Whether they are teaching, listening, painting, fasting, praying – find ways for them get a little uncomfortable! It’s life changing!
- Fun and laughter – they are teenagers right? This happens no matter what. But I try to be intentional to give them down time and games. And I want to have opportunities to laugh and play with them.
- Time to reflect – some of my favorite ministry moments have happened when I just ask them to share what they are taking away from a conversations or an experience. It’s amazing what is really going on inside those hearts and heads. Definitely create space to ask them!!!
- Prayer – We try to create many prayer moments for our youth to participate in – prayer stations, one word prayers, prayer journaling, etc. It is amazing to watch the Holy Spirit move and change our teens through prayer.
- Service – I try to find many chances for them to offer service in multiple different ways inside our church and in our community. I’m hoping to get even more creative with this one – because they have passions that I haven’t even thought of!
- Relationship – this one is key for me. I would like my youth and my adults to grow in relationship because of their experiences with our youth ministry. Grow in relationship with each other and with God. Luckily, relationships grow even during a shaving cream fight.
- Schedule. Even if its not my favorite event – if it fits our schedule and the youth really want to do it, then we will go.
The youth leadership decided not to participate in two of the February weekend activities after the Church Council meeting a few weekends ago. I am very proud of them for looking at all of the different choices and for making the hard decision to say no to a few things. I also feel a sense of peace myself as we prepare for the others things that we are going to participate in. And I can’t WAIT to see how they incorporate many of the values listed above into our 30 Hour Famine at the end of the month!