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The Famine Blog

An Open Letter to Youth Pastors and Leaders


By Aaron Wolgamott

To every Youth Pastor and Adult Leader serving in Youth Ministry…

This is more of a letter than a blog post. It’s a letter from my heart to your heart, from one who loves students and sees the immense value of youth ministry to another who loves students and sees the immense value of youth ministry. It is a letter to remind you of what really matters the most in youth ministry.

It’s students. Students matter the most. Not the programs, the big events, the games, the coolness factor of the youth room, or even how great the lessons and small group discussions are.

Don’t get me wrong: there is absolutely nothing wrong with programs, events, games, lessons and small group discussions, or even creating a cool youth room where students can feel comfortable. When done well, they can all be a valuable piece of a quality youth ministry. But ultimately, the teenagers themselves are what truly matter.

You can have a successful youth ministry without a cool youth room, crazy fun games, big events, or fancy and well-organized programs. Lesson and small groups I will say are a must at some level…but remember that even those are only successful if the students know that you care about them and really do want to help them and listen to them.

The students are by far what matters most.

Make sure you take the time to listen to your students. Listen to them as they share their dreams, ideas, struggles, and fears. Listen to them and talk with them about their doubts and questions about faith and this life. Allow them the freedom to share whatever is on their heart with you.

Find ways to be involved in their lives in little and big ways. Show up at their games and activities to cheer them on and show them support. Grab a bite to eat with them so you can build a relationship with them. Let them know you are there for them if and when they need you to be. And then when something major happens in their life that brings their world crashing down, be there for them.

Don’t just preach at them; rather, invest in their lives and disciple them. Show them what scripture teaches, but also help them apply what scripture teaches in their everyday life. Be transparent (appropriate transparency, obviously) with them about what you’re learning in your life.

Make the youth ministry about them. Let them know in tangible ways that they’re what’s most important in the ministry, and that you truly care for them. Tell them you are proud of them. Show them you care about them. Treat them with respect. Pay attention to them.

Here is why I’m writing you this letter, reminding you of this truth…

Because I’m now on the other side. I worked in youth ministry since I was a freshman in college, and was full-time since graduating college 14 years ago (18 total years in youth ministry). But I am currently on sabbatical from ministry, so I’m not the guy planning the events and seeking to invest in students’ lives.

Now I am the parent praying and desiring that you will care for and invest in my own teenagers’ lives. And while I know that as their parent I have a God-given responsibility to raise my children, I also understand that my children need more than just me to invest in their lives. Having other solid Christian adults in their lives who care about them and invest in them is crucial. I know it was for me when I was growing up. My youth pastor had the single biggest influence on my life, and I am forever thankful for him investing in my life.

Keep your eyes open, so you can see what is going on in their lives and thus be able to care for them accordingly. Train yourself to properly and effectively connect with and invest in your students. Make that the priority…because students need you to.

When I was in youth ministry, I knew all that I’m reminding you of. I knew the importance of it, and I’m not suggesting you don’t know the importance of it yourself or that you don’t seek to do any of what I’ve shared. But now that I’m on the other side, I see the importance of it from a fresh perspective. So, I’m reminding you of all this once again.


A parent first, and former Youth Pastor second

Before and After


By Daniel Kiefer

Before and After experiences are a part of life. There is before and after your driver’s license, before and after college, before and after kids, before and after supper, and before and after Jesus. Life changes all the time, and change usually comes from a before and after experience. The biggest life change comes after we meet Jesus.

The cross is no different in this experience. Think about what the cross symbolized before Jesus.  It was the means of capital punishment for the Romans. Those who were crucified carried a stigma of being outcasts and criminals with them as they were lead off to be crucified. The cross was a symbol of death, torture, rejection, shame, guilt, hopelessness, and punishment. But when an innocent Jewish carpenter was sentenced to death by way of the cross, people began to see the cross in a different way. After Jesus believers see the cross as a symbol of life, love, acceptance, forgiveness, innocence, freedom, transformation, and hope. Jesus steps in and creates a before and after experience. He drastically changes how people view the cross.

Murderer, zealot, informant, persecutor of the innocent, liar, cheat, foul mouthed, and violent are words and phrases that could be used to describe a man who had his life radically changed after he met Jesus. Saul (or as he is known in the New Testament: Paul) persecuted Christians, looked on as Stephen was stoned to death, sought to stamp out the Christian faith. Then, one day Paul met Jesus. He had a before and after experience with Jesus and was changed forever. Paul became a great leader of the early church. He lead countless people to Christ and wrote 13 letters to believers that are now in the New Testament. Paul describes how his life changed after Jesus in Philippians 3:7-14…

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (NASB)(bold emphasis added)

Paul’s life was radically different after he met Jesus. Paul no longer lived his life for himself but he left everything behind to follow Jesus. All Paul wanted to do after he met Jesus was get to know Jesus more and tell others about him. He was Saul before Jesus and Paul after Jesus. Jesus dramatically changed Paul.

So many people have a before and after story with Jesus, the woman at the well: Peter, Zacchaeus, the blind man, the deaf man, the lepers, Nicodemus, and countless others. All these people have a before and after story with Jesus. Over and over again we see Jesus meeting someone and their life is radically different after they meet Jesus. What is your before and after story with Jesus? Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (ESV)

If you are a follower of Jesus, he has made you a new creation.  You now have a before and after story. How has Jesus changed you? How does he want to continue changing you? What victories do you have over sin? How are you different? Who can you share your before and after story with today? As we begin to contemplate the story of Easter and how this event changes everything, what a great opportunity you have to share about resurrection and your before and after story. Before and after Jesus has the power to change any story.

Will You Wait for Echoes?


By Sean Garner

I was thinking about big expansive places the other day. Those places (whether deep, broad or wide) only God can design; architects imitate, electric toys mimic and even cheap dollar store microphones give a joyful attempt…but they can’t quite match. Those places, whether deep in the ground or out in the open, are the place where echoes thrive.

The amazing thing about echoes is their ability to entertain us for long stretches of time. Those of us who’ve had the experience can become utterly fascinated for hours by simple cries into the darkness.

Think about it.

Even if you’ve never had the experience yourself, it’s a typical archetype: someone standing in a cave, or among the hills or near some cavernous expanse and yelling “Hello” which morphs over space and time into “Hello… ello… low… low… low…,” slowing winding down to reveal a completely different expression.

So, let’s get spiritual: in the simplest of terms (I mean really basic, don’t-go-too-deep terms), 1 Corinthians 2:14 says that spiritual truths are really only discerned by those who, in essence, have their spiritual radar ready to receive them. We assume, of course, because we’re reading this amazing blog, our antenna are up and always ready to receive. But what if our attention span, not our antenna, is the problem?

Some of us miss transformation in our ministry (or, in our careers and in our personal lives) because we never yell into the cavern. We like safe and quiet places where risk is low, the grass is soft and the sky expands ever before us. The rest of us, who thunderously shout into the dark places love to see what God does with our minuscule efforts, then we walk away victorious.  But what if we’re not waiting long enough, not listening close enough, not sitting humbly enough to hear the echo in return?

Waiting for the echo is the most important part!  Why yell into a cavern, across the valley or among the mountains if not to hear their reply? If we speak too soon our words simply garble on top of one another, great thoughts will wind themselves up among the crowded wall of noise and even the most perfect echo gets lost among the overgrown forest of words.

So in the hours, days and weeks that follow an impactful event (it’s okay, we don’t mind, call it a spiritual high) like the 30 Hour Famine or your most recent retreat or a great summer mission trip, have you listened to how the Holy Spirit has made the message change into something new?

The problem with any rally call for a cause or a movement is that if we simply repeat the same message over and over again, it loses its impact. But… God has perfectly designed the world so that—given the space and time—he can transform it into something beautiful.

These echoes are so much shorter in length than all the work you put into the 30 Hour Famine! But when we let them ring, they pull teens, leaders and communities into the beginning of a lifetime commitment for change that we couldn’t stop even if we tried that feeds itself with each repetition. They become words that THEY own, rather than words that we give them.

Maybe the words that were poured out at this year’s Famine are changing to a smaller concept that pours out of the conversations your group is having with one another, repeating itself over and over this spring and summer… Grace? Compassion? Humility? Justice? Patience? Passion? Purpose? What is the conversation that comes AFTER a big event that may be the echo that you’re looking for.

Look for the content that is bouncing among the heart of your group—a simple, slow word that repeats over and over again. After the event is done, this could have them sitting on the hillside listening to the call of God for a very long time.

Are you patient enough in your ministry to perceive it?

“Let those who have ears hear.” Luke 8:8

Getting More Honest with the Bible


By Jake Kircher

One of the things that I have loved about the 30 Hour Famine is the chance to engage students with the Bible. This is especially true when it comes to what the scriptures have to say about social justice, helping the poor, and feeding the hungry. It’s so important to help our students understand the importance of God’s Word and how it can help us to live the best life possible. However, I’m also learning that to do that, we need to get more honest about the Bible. Here’s what I mean by that:

In our “I want it now” and “quick and easy” culture, we often apply these same philosophies to faith and to reading the Bible. We say things like, “Just read the Bible and do what it says,” making scripture seem easy and self-explanatory. For many of us, especially those working within certain denominations, we have quick answers to the many questions that teens ask about the Bible and present our “clear” interpretations of it.

But the fact of the matter is that the deeper that you get in to the Bible and the more closely you read it, you quickly realize that it’s not that easy. On top of that, when we present it like an easy button, we actually set teens up for failure later.

There are lots and lot of questions to be explored in the Bible. Some of them are popular, like, how do we reconcile the angry, “kill everyone” God in the Old Testament to the loving, sacrificial God of the New Testament? How do we deal with the miraculous? Or, are the Bible and science incompatible?

But others are much more below the surface and can easily be missed when we just teach teens to “read the Bible and do what it says.” What do you do when history or archeology disagree with an account in Scripture (see Luke 2:1-7)? What do we do with translation problems where there is lots of disagreement over the meaning of a word? What do we do when there is evidence that scribes later changed the original language in a text (see Mark 1:40-44)? How do we handle apparent contradictions in the Gospel accounts? And how do we understand the context of what we’re reading so we know we are applying it to our lives accurately (see 1 Corinthians 14:34-35)?

It’s questions like these and not being honest about them that can set our teens up for failure later: If they don’t know how to critically think through these issues, it’s easy for them to either embrace fear and ignore important questions like this (which then leads to spiritual isolation as they only surround themselves with other people who think like them) or they embrace cynicism and walk away from their faith all together.

Dr. Peter Enns shares that “the Jews viewed the Bible as a problem, as an ongoing discussion to enter in to.” Our job as youth workers needs to be inviting our students in to that conversation. We need to teach them how to read the Bible and how to get below the surface. We need to point them to resources (there are tons available online) they can use to better understand and explore Scripture. And we have to be honest that the Bible isn’t always easy and that the difficulties aren’t something to be afraid of or cynical of, but can actually lead to a deeper and more meaningful faith.

Fasting in an “I Want It Now” Culture


By Mike Cunningham

We live in an ever-growing world of convenience. If you are looking for information or news, just ask Google and you can find the answer NOW. If you need to buy something but want to avoid the crowd at the mall just order it on Amazon and you can have it NOW (almost). If you need to learn how to do something just watch a YouTube video NOW. If you do not have time to grocery shop just have the Blue Apron do all the shopping for you and it will be delivered to your doorstep NOW.

We live in a culture of NOW, not later. A culture of convenience.

Don’t get me wrong. I love technology. I love making life easier. I love solving problems. I love new ideas. I love having things NOW. Waiting for something is not fun. Delayed gratification sounds like gibberish and patience is like a dirty word in the I Want It Now era.

Convenience is not the enemy though. Becoming too dependent on immediacy is the problem. When we get used to having all these things at our fingertips we come to depend on them. We become addicted and needy. I cannot possibly live without my precious. Just ask anyone who has tried to take a break from social media for any length of time.

My young son just recently entered into the I Want It Now era. He wants his newest toy NOW. He wants his food NOW. He wants to go outside and meet new friends NOW. He wants to watch cartoons NOW. His understanding of patience and waiting is very small. As parents, we are trying to teach him that he can go without for a season, or longer if needed, and that everything will be okay if he is patient and depends on us: our love, our wisdom, our vision and our provision. Dependence is not bad unless you are dependent upon the wrong thing.

The 30 Hour Famine encourages us to depend on the right thing. The most important relationship one can have: a relationship with God. We are challenged to give up food for a short period of time so we can raise awareness of world hunger and help meet real needs for kids all over the world. It is a worthy cause for sure, but one of the great by-products of participating is helping students rediscover the beautiful practice of fasting.

In today’s world fasting is a foreign concept. It does not make sense to go without food, water or something you depend on. Why would one want to give up these good things? The answer is simple: giving these good things up causes us to depend on God. Students recognize their need for God and their need to hear his voice. Sometimes life can get so busy and loud that it will drown out the voice of God in our lives and space is needed to reconnect to the source.

Fasting helps us slow down, put our attention on what really matters, receive insight on how to handle life’s difficulties, and give us wisdom on how to make the right choices. We are always looking for ways to solve our problems and make life more convenient. Instead of downloading another time-management app, maybe we should consider fasting.

To Challenge or Not to Challenge? How About BOTH


By Mark Eades

My high school coach was encouraging me – LOUDLY – during a 2-mile race. He encouraged as I ran, “Don’t slow down once you get around that guy – you can stay that pace!” I thought he was crazy because I still had 1.5 miles to go. But I tried it; and you know what – it worked! I won that race and had my best time ever. My coach challenged me to go a little harder and run a little faster. He helped me see that I had more in me than I thought. Shouldn’t we be doing the same with our youth?

I once heard veteran youth worker Kurt Johnston say, “Raise the bar; or don’t; but maybe a little; but not too much.” He was talking about challenging middle school kids, while still allowing them to be middle school kids. That idea has stuck with me and I’ve been excited to see what happens when you raise the bar on youth, for a little while, and see what happens.

Here is an example of something we have done that challenged our teenagers – for a while. We have a winter retreat ever year for our middle schoolers where we get away and really focus on challenging them in different spiritual areas of their lives. One of the things we did was create a Bible reading room. Students signed up to read the Bible for 15 minutes at a time during the entire retreat (except when we were sleeping), and wow! They loved it! Not only did they make sure to be there for their time to read, but they encouraged their friends to sign up for a time before or after their reading time. That way, they could hear each other read God’s word. One of the biggest highlights for our teens at our retreat these days is the Bible reading room. Simple, but yet something that challenged them – for a while.

Are there ways that you can challenge your teenagers to step up and try something? It could be something as simple as reading the Bible for 15 minutes or it could be as challenging as going overseas to do missions in Haiti.  I think the secret to this is knowing each kid and challenging them to go for it. If it works, great! Talk it through with them and see how it worked. If it doesn’t work, that’s okay too. Talk it through with them and see what happened and what can be changed. In Ephesians 4:11-12 it says, “He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church.” As we spend time with youth we get a chance to start showing them the shape God wants them to be as adults.  The next time you are with a group of youth see what happens if you challenge them just a little – you might be very surprised.

Innovative Leadership in Youth Ministry


By Andrew Esqueda

Not too long ago I started reading a book on leadership called Originals, by Adam Grant. It’s not a book on Christian leadership or models of ministry it’s simply a book by an expert in the field of leadership. The basic thesis of the book is that in the world of leadership, business, and entrepreneurship, those who are “originals” are the ones who succeed. Their originality isn’t something grandiose that they invented, but rather, original takes on ideas and systems already in place.

Reading this book made me think more and more about leadership, innovation, and originality in the church, and what it might look like in my youth ministry. I used to have this idea that I needed to do something crazy and creative all the time to show my leadership skills and innovation not only to my students, but to the church as a whole. It became exhausting for me, and frankly, I don’t think I’m that creative or innovative. However, I know a ton of people who are, and I have a ton of students who are. So, why not start looking at the landscape of what has already been done and just give it a little tweak?

Well, that’s what I started doing. Taking a look at what is out there, even things that are decades and decades old, and looking at them with new and fresh eyes. Not only was this relieving for me–I didn’t have to come up with something crazy new all the time—but it was also empowering for our students to be a part of that original leadership process of creating and innovating upon what has already been done.

I was listening to a podcast recently and Barnes & Noble was the topic. Sounds incredibly exciting, right? Well, to my amazement it was. Barnes & Noble used to be a giant. They were a mainstay in the book world, the business world, and public life. I remember going to Barnes & Noble quite often to read books and just hang out; and then they got Starbucks too – even better. Then Amazon came along. Amazon put Borders out of business and began taking a massive toll on Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble started selling books online to compete, they created the Nook to compete, but they still couldn’t compete. They had to do something different; so they started selling board games. Yep, board games.

Now, Barnes & Noble brings in more revenue than they ever have and the majority of that revenue is from board games. They still have a brick and mortar store where people can go and read books; they’ve got Starbucks; they’ve got the Nook. And they did something new, not something revolutionary and overly inventive. They simply took an old standard and brought it into the mainstream. I’m working on doing Barnes & Noble Youth Ministry; creating a youth ministry and culture that doesn’t always have the pressure of crazy innovation, but begins ministerial and gospel revolution by taking the small things we’ve been doing for so long, and simply giving them a tweak. Reforming isn’t always about revolution.

So… What Do We Do Now?


By Brien Bell

It’s Tuesday, a week and a half after your 30 Hour Famine has ended (at least for those of you who held your Famine event on the first national date!). Maybe you’ve given your group a much-needed break after the event – something we highly recommend – and you’re just getting back into the swing of things. It’s only March, there’s still a whole year ahead of us!

So what do we do now?

If you’re anything like me, that’s the big question after any “mountain top moment,” whether it’s 30 Hour Famine, a retreat, summer camp, or just a major breakthrough in someone’s faith during a regular youth group meeting. We’re eager for the next BIG thing, but often it’s the smaller ways to reach out and get involved that help engender a spirit of service on a regular basis, rather than just once a year.

With that in mind, here are a few ways you can take your Famine experience and extend it beyond the weekend:

1. Pray for Peace

This one seems so simple and straightforward, and yet how often do we pray for our own concerns, our own needs, before we think about the needs of the world. There is so much hurt in this world, from war and violence to desperate hunger and poverty. Prayer has great power, and when we focus our prayer toward peace and reconciliation, God’s justice will follow.

2. Volunteer!

The 30 Hour Famine is a great opportunity to introduce your youth to service, but it’s in the repetition of a servant’s work that the work of healing a hurting world really takes place. Does your group or church have a mission partner in your local community? A soup kitchen or a food bank? Do you work with literacy programs or children’s after school programs? Maybe one of your service projects from the Famine weekend needs volunteers during the weeks to come. These are great ways to make an impact right where you live, combating hunger and education issues that World Vision and the Famine respond to on a global level.

3. Sponsor a Child

Perhaps this is something you already do with your youth group, but if it’s not, what a way to connect directly with a child who needs support! My youth program has sponsored World Vision children since before I began attending almost 20 years ago, and has continued to do so while at the same time supporting the Famine, Team World Vision, and our church’s World Vision partnership with an area development program (ADP) in Ethiopia. Through the letters and pictures we’ve shared with our sponsor children, we’ve gotten to better know and understand the lives we’re affecting, and it’s one of my favorite things we do as a group. Click here to find a child waiting to be sponsored.

4. Take a Vision Trip

So maybe you’ve done all that – you’ve prayed, you’ve volunteered at a local level, you and your group have stepped up to sponsor one, or more, children… what can we do now? This one’s a bigger step, more like a big, giant leap – take a trip to meet your sponsor child! Now obviously this isn’t something everyone can do, and it’s certainly going to be expensive, especially if it means traveling to areas like Bangladesh, Haiti, or Ethiopia. But as we are called to stretch out our arms to reach those in need, sometimes it means meeting them where they are. Vision trips aren’t like mission trips, they’re not about “doing” – they’re about “being.” Being in the midst of the world you’re helping to change, learning about how your support affects lives in a real way, and hopefully breaking your heart in some small way, as God’s breaks for His people when they suffer.

Some of these ideas you can do right away, with little time, effort, or planning. Others may take years to realize. No one ever said the work would be easy – but maybe that’s the point. We need to be challenged to step off that mountaintop and into the world that’s ready for real change and real courage. These are, by no means, the only ways you can take your 30 Hour Famine experience and live it out each day, but perhaps it’s a start. And God can do all sorts of things with a willing spirit.

Beyond the Big Event: How Follow Up Can Increase Your Impact


By Britt Martin

We’ve all been there. You have a big event coming up so you work extra hours, recruit volunteers, promote it to students, and communicate to parents on top of your regular duties as the youth leader. Then during the event you work to make sure each detail falls into place. You typically show up early and leave late, and you want to try and connect with students that are there on top of the leadership and administrative duties you have for the event. These big events are typically ones that we encourage students to bring friends to, and it’s so easy to get so bogged down in the planning, prep, day of craziness that we watch new students walk into and out of our groups without us making a connection with them.

Follow up is huge in these “big event” situations. What if there were a few tweaks you could make to your event that would help you win by making a connection with the new students that come, or at least give you a second chance to make a connection? Here are a few follow up tips and tricks that our team has learned over the years.

Empower your volunteers

You’re not going to catch every new kid that comes in the door. We do a quick volunteer meeting right before students start to show up. We pray for them and encourage them to seek out any new comers or students that haven’t been in a while. We just want them to make contact with these teenagers—maybe give them a high five, catch their name (even if they have to jot it down when they walk away), or tell them a corny joke. This is a way to get names/info of students without making it an official thingOur volunteers pass this info along to the correct people after the event.

The Give Away

Now and then we do a big giveaway at our events (typically back to school/end of school). The concept of this is really simple. We print up some cards and have volunteers posted at doors where students enter and get them to fill the cards out to enter to win a big prize (hammock, iPad, gift card, free pizza, etc). On the cards we asked for info such as name, grade, phone number, and Instagram account name. We do a drawing at some point in the night to give away the prize. But the prize for US is the names and info from students (including first time guests and students that have been away for a while).

Hold the prize

We don’t always do this, but when we do, it really works well! If we do a give away or have some sort of game/contest we often tell teens the winner will be selected and prize given at our next youth gathering. We don’t mean this in a tricky way at all. We want to give a student any excuse necessary to walk through the doors of your “regular” gathering. That gives you a second chance to connect with these students and get them connected to other students/leaders.

The Ball is in your court

I’ve fallen victim to this more than I’d love to admit. We’ve done the work of planning a great big event. We’ve gotten new students in the door. We’ve even gotten info from new students and students that have been away for a while, and I’ve let that info sit on my desk and get put off until it felt like the window is closed. The last tip is pretty straightforward. DO IT! Send the text talking about the next big event or that it was good to meet them! Give them a follow on Instagram. Invite them for a cup of coffee! Whatever you need to do…do it! What we do is worth it!

Follow a few of these tips and come up with a few of your own! But whatever you do, make sure to keep follow up a priority. It’s a great way to win TWICE with your big event!

After the Big Event is Over


By Shawn Kiger

Whenever I finish up a big event like a mission trip or fundraiser, several things go through my mind. First: I’m glad it’s over! I love youth ministry, but am usually exhausted after a major event and blissfully relieved to be heading home. Second: I run though a quick evaluation in my head and start looking toward what is next. I have had to train my brain over the last few years to think about how to follow up with the students on what they just experienced.

Many of you have just finished up the 30 Hour Famine, since last weekend was the first National Date. I want to challenge you not to rush to the next thing. After you rest up some, and get something to eat, think through some of these suggestions and maybe come up with a few of your own.

I have always struggled getting my group back together after a big event. Like me, they have all moved on to the next thing. It’s not that the event was not meaningful or impactful—it’s just that we all lead busy lives. So the last couple years I’ve tried something different. When we are finished with a big event I now look for ways the youth can teach the congregation what they learned and experienced.  Usually the Sunday after the event they will lead worship for the entire congregation. I push them to share not just a timeline of what they did, but how they experienced God and what they learned from the experience. After the worship service I then look for other ways they can share. Sometimes they will teach in an adult Sunday school class or share during children’s ministry. I have one of them write a blog post for the church website.  They will share during youth group so that the youth who were not able to attend the event can hear about it (and maybe get them exited to attend next time). I also encourage them to share pictures and stories on social media.

Changing my thinking on follow up after a big event has achieved several things. First it gives the youth opportunities to lead in the church. Whether it is in worship or an adult Sunday school class it gives them the opportunity to be heard. Second, it creates an opportunity for the youth that are sharing to process the event and articulate what they want to say. Instead of being out of sight, out of mind, these opportunities push them to think through the experience. Lastly, it educates the entire congregation on what the youth are doing, learning, and how they are experiencing God.  As a bonus, the congregation sees the good work the youth are doing and are excited to support them.

There’s still a lot of merit in gathering the group back together after a big event. But in my experience finding alternative ways of sharing with the entire congregation has big benefits for everyone.