Friday, May 09, 2008

    Schools vs. Youth Ministry

    Over my 20 or so years in youth ministry, I've noticed a trend of the public schools taking up more and more of our young people's time. In the past, you could at least count on Wednesday nights and Sunday morning being free of school activities. This is no longer true. In the past, you could count on summers being free except for the kids who needed remedial summer school. This is no longer true. We have to struggle like crazy at my church every spring just to find one week in the summer for a mission trip when most of our youth aren't at band camp or cheerleader camp or sports camp or taking extra summer school classes so they can get into a better university. And forget about getting most of them to church camp. If they aren't doing camps related to school, they are working. So, I really resonated when I came across this youth minister's open letter (courtesy of the Youth Ministry Hilarity blog) to the local school district. He said everything I've been thinking for years:

    My youth ministry is trying to affect the same kind of results as you are. I would LOVE to work in conjunction with the schools, but the schools want ALL the time. While YOU are working on increasing the knowledge and athleticism of these kids, I would like to help work on their character, but my time to do so is increasingly taken away. It is very frustrating when schools tell kids (or give them the impression) that their GRADES depend on attendance of all ballgames, shows,etc. Even during the summer! I agree with the old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." I certainly do not wish to do away with schooling, but I wish kids could experience more help from church, work, and non-profit organizations.
    Read the rest here. Wonder what would happen if we all wrote a letter like this and sent it to our local newspaper.


    Matt said...

    Great idea on making a mass letter campaign of some kind. If we really want it to work, we would need to be a little more nuanced in the tone of the letter.

    It would also be great to get people from different denominations, faith traditions, academia, parents, community organizations, etc. to all make a declaration with one voice that we are all in this together and schooling is getting out of hand. It's stifling families, churches, community groups, children's development, and probably more. It really is getting out of hand. If the trend continues, summer will be completely gone.

    Anonymous said...

    I just stumbled accross your blog when I googled "student vs. youth ministry."

    Anyways, you've got some great stuff.