Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Back to Normal?

    The start of a new fall in youth group is always an adjustment. Some faces we'd grown used to seeing each week for years have headed off to college, and new faces have assumed their place. It takes awhile to get a sense of the new group, to help the youth gel as a community, and to determine what direction our ministry will take together. At times I've gone into a new youth year with things planned out for the next six months. There's a certain sense of security in knowing that all the discussion topics, Bible study themes, and major events are on the calendar through Christmas.

    But sometimes, like this fall, it makes more sense to wait and get a sense of the group first. In fact, my youth staff and I met just prior to the first fall meeting just to sit and talk about the group. We held a brainstorming session in which we discussed:

    1) Participants: Who are the youth in our church/in our group? (leaders, followers, musicians, artists, youth from single-parent families, etc.)

    2) Context: Where does our youth ministry take place? (at weekly meetings, Sunday morning worship, at shared meals, in participants' homes, etc)

    3) Content: What do we hope the youth will learn/experience during their time in the program? (the basics of Christian faith, biblical literacy, how to think for themselves, an understanding of baptism/communion, what it means to follow the way of Jesus, etc.).

    Since every year we each really start with a new group, a time of reflection like this is important if we are going to attend to the needs of each unique group and not just do what we want to do or just keep repeating the same old program year after year.