The Value of Student Activities in Youth Ministry

  • They don’t value God or the church because they miss youth group.
  • They think football is more important on a Friday night than a youth event.
  • They can’t give Jesus just 90 minutes of their time a week.
  • And I hear you, friends.  I’ve felt like you, and I mean, I still get frustrated.  But I’m a little more empathetic to the students, and here’s why.

    Going to youth group doesn’t produce a college scholarship.

    That’s blunt, I know.  Yet, with the costs of college, teenagers are trying to do whatever it takes to help pay for it. Now, there are things that you can do as a youth pastor to help this out:
    • Provide missions opportunities to help them gain community service/volunteer work to put on their resumes. Bonus: make it open to the community of high schoolers and not just your church teens (can you say outreach?).
    • Find a way to have more student leadership positions, so that your students can put that on their resume.
    • Find people within the church who can invest scholarships into some of your teenagers.
    I know first-hand that you can be a part of clubs and still be active in church; I participated and was an officer in 8 clubs in high school (I’m crazy, I know); however, I didn’t do sports while in high school, which are mega-time-consuming.  I also know that very few (if any) of your high school students will actually make it to the big leagues… Yet I also know the benefits of being on a team and the skills you can learn from that.  They are valuable skills that I think should be encouraged.

    Teenagers need to be able to spread the gospel.

    We emphasize to our teenagers about going into their “mission field” to spread the Gospel.  Where else can they spread it?  They can’t exactly spread the Gospel in math class.  There’s lunch period, but other than that there aren’t any real opportunities. I think we should encourage our teens to get involved in clubs and sports so that they can have opportunities to spread the Gospel in real-life situations.  Otherwise, when they become an adult, their only experiences of sharing the Gospel will be from Missions Projects with their Youth Group.

    Jesus isn’t exclusively at youth group.

    One of the biggest annoyances to me is when youth pastors say that when a student doesn’t come to youth group, they’re putting their extracurriculars over Jesus. Really?  Are Sunday and Wednesday the only times that Jesus shows up?  And are you really that audacious to say that what you are providing is equivalent to Jesus?

    Youth ministry isn’t exclusively at youth group.

    Just like Jesus just isn’t on Sundays, neither should you.  We need to learn to reach teenagers on their turf.   You need to consider the culture.  Honestly, if you live in a football town, why would you put a youth event on a Friday Night?  You should be at the game living life with them and rooting on your student players.  Maybe your students get swamped in the school year and Wednesdays aren’t the right days for you. Ministry happens at the lunch table, at a baseball game, in a small group, in dodgeball, and in youth group.  It happens in a text conversation, and also in a warm hug.  They may not come to that 90 minute meeting, but is that all you’re offering them?  Small groups and mentors are great alternatives to youth group–just make sure you’re plugging them in and giving them options.

    Consider that what you’re offering isn’t more appealing than chess club.

    This goes back to culture–what reaches your students?  Maybe that senior girl doesn’t come to Wednesdays because she hates messy games and has no alternative.  Maybe that middle school boy doesn’t come because there are too many girls and he needs a small group of other guys.  You may have to consider that what you have going on isn’t pulling students in, and you may have to be courageous enough to do things differently. I’m not saying to be “seeker friendly.”  I’m saying be “culturally appropriate.”  Jesus used parables in order to relate the Gospel in a way for people to understand it…and even that went over their heads.  So while you’re not always going to get it right, at least you tried to consider your students and reach them where they’re at. Now, I get it:  There will be teens to do put up some pretty lame excuses as to why they can’t come. Love on them anyway.

    What are some ways that you’ve encouraged your teens to do extracurriculars, but still maintained a healthy youth group presence?

    ]]>

    8 Comments

    1. I think your quote of "Youth Ministry doesnt happen exclusively at Youth Group" is a great one. However, I still hold that kids are way to busy, and extracurricular activities dont do anything to build them up like Christ and Church could, but more importantly, should. Get students involved, yeah, but Youth Ministry can no longer be a time to simply build a foundation, they need that before they set foot in High School.
      • I totally agree with you and @disqus_QPbzi2TF88:disqus... teens are WAY too busy... either that or they have way too much anxiety over it. Sometimes when my teens tell me all they have on their plate, I'm like "...okay? and?"
    2. I think your quote of "Youth Ministry doesnt happen exclusively at Youth Group" is a great one. However, I still hold that kids are way to busy, and extracurricular activities dont do anything to build them up like Christ and Church could, but more importantly, should. Get students involved, yeah, but Youth Ministry can no longer be a time to simply build a foundation, they need that before they set foot in High School.
    3. Great post....I love the idea of getting out where the youth are at in your community, something I strive to do. I think it is important that students see you in their daily lives instead of just church settings. Students are way too busy though. I am all for working hard and earning scholarships to college, I highly encourage that. I do believe it's vital to be plugged into a church community. I don't think that means you have to make every dodge ball game or all-nighter, but they should be plugged into a small group, worship, something where they are experiencing God, others, and are able to share how God is working in their lives and you just don't get that with extracurricular activities.
      • I was also going to share an idea that I heard of a church doing and one I plan to try but haven't had the chance to do so yet. During the week of finals at school they would open up some rooms for study hall and provide tutors for students as they prepared for their finals. They would also take periodic breaks for snacks and relax time and at the end have some worship for those that wished to hang around for that. I thought this was a pretty cool idea to let students know you care about their academic success and also show them some love.
        • these are great ideas! It's all about meeting students where they are at and not trying to fit them into where WE are at.

    Leave a Reply

    Main Menu