Dear Students, Parents, and Leaders,
In this “Youth Ministry Reimagined” update, you will read about ideas from the Adult Youth Leaders, an excellent article written about Youth Alpha at our church, and upcoming dates. Please continue to join us in sharing your feedback and praying for the future of our Youth Ministry.
Dear PARENTS: We would really like for you to take 1-2 minutes to complete the survey below (if you did not do it last month). Just click on the link below:
We surveyed some of our Adult Youth Leaders last month about why they serve and improvements we could make in our Youth Ministry. Here is what they said:
Why do you serve as a Youth Leader?
- They are fun to be with and I want help guide them through a very formative time in life and be a positive role model for them. I want to see them develop their own relationship with Jesus and carry it on to college and the rest of their lives.
- Our students have a lot to learn about the Bible, salvation and life in general … and because they are eager to learn, I enjoy teaching them all I can.
- I love this age because they are crucial years of one’s life to form the kind of person they are going to be the rest of their life-values, beliefs, and all. I want to help mold them to seek Christ, and not the world, to meet thier needs.
Where could we improve in the current programming of our youth ministry? How do you see yourself fitting into that?
- I think we should have more time for small groups and 1-on-1 interactions. It would be great to have some intentional time to solidify the relationships between students and leaders.
- In the past, I think our weakest areas of youth ministry have been the transition periods into Jr.High, into High School, and into the 18-20Somethings groups. I know most of the PAK (5th-6th grade kids) from Awana and Day Camp and I don’t understand why more of them don’t go directly into the Jr.High Youth Group when they are able. I will continue promoting that YG to them, but something more may be needed even beyond this new approach to youth ministry.
Please give a suggestion on how we can better create an atmosphere in which every student feels like they can be themselves (at combined JH & HS gatherings)?
- Have the upper classmen be paired up with a younger student or create small teams where students get to know each other and have to work together towards a common goal.
- I’ve seen this concept work in other areas so consider pairing Senior High boys (“big brothers”) with Jr.High boys (“little brothers”) and do the same with the girls so that we cultivate a caring, mentoring relationship between the two groups. Most of the effort and commitment may fall upon the high schoolers’ shoulders, and why not if they truly are disciples of Christ ready to love others.
- Small group settings in leader’s homes.
In the past year, our Youth Ministry has had three of our own “Youth Alpha’s” (Jr High last spring; High School last spring; High School guys last Winter). We are confident that Youth Alpha will be an integral aspect of our future Youth Ministry programming.
Our very own Matt & Christine were recently featured in an article about the Youth Alpha Course at Coffeehouse. (http://www.alphausa.org/Articles/1000131980/Why_Wouldnt_we.aspx)
Why Wouldn’t We Do Alpha With This Group Of Guys?
Matt M, High School Community Outreach Director At Bloomingdale Church, Has A Mission In His Own Backyard Of Bloomingdale IL.
On Friday nights Matt and his wife, Christine, lead 264.Coffeehouse (264 referencing the church address). Coffeehouse is a safe, relaxing environment where unchurched high school students can hang out with their friends. Most of these kids have had some association with church in the past but don’t normally attend church anymore.
One student said that he used to attend church while growing up on the south side of Chicago. Unfortunately, his experience consisted of being “verbally and physically beat up” and left him with a fear of ever returning to a church environment. However, through Coffeehouse, another student had the opportunity to befriend him, saying “If you go, I’ll go.” At that point, Matt and Christine felt that a spiritual component needed to be integrated into Coffeehouse.
Matt built relationships with several guys who consistently showed up at Coffeehouse and noticed that they played basketball at a park right around the corner from the church. Being into sports himself, Matt started playing basketball with the guys on Fridays, before heading to Coffeehouse. During their basketball games, he met a handful of new students who then also started going to Coffeehouse.
Meanwhile, Bloomingdale Church had asked Matt to lead their next Youth Alpha course. By the time they were getting close to starting Youth Alpha, Matt was hanging out, playing ball with an average of 15 guys every Friday. “As I was asked to lead Youth Alpha”, says Matt, “my wife and I were thinking about what that would look like. Then it just came to us … like God was saying ‘you have this crowd right in front of your faces’. We thought – why wouldn’t we do Alpha with this group of guys? We felt that God was telling us to do Alpha for this specific group of guys, for this specific season. Every week, it’s so great to see this group of guys, 98 percent of which do not have a relationship with God and 100 percent of them do not come to our church at all.”
Through Youth Alpha, these young men are opening up more and more. Matt (who leads the talks) and the small group leaders see them asking big questions now, all on topic, and all great to hear. Some of them have asked, “Was God responsible for the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs?”; “Why do bad things happen good people?”; “Who created God?”
“I wasn’t expecting any of these questions”, says Matt. “And I think, for a teenage boy sixteen or seventeen years old, it takes a lot of courage to come up to an adult and ask a question.”
“I also appreciate that Alpha is very easy to teach because it focuses on the things that are key in forming a foundation of faith. The ten minute talk goes by very through quickly and leaves a bit of ambiguity. And I think that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in, to help connect the dots.”
“Personally, teaching Youth Alpha has sharpened my own faith”, says Matt. “It’s invigorating to see God work as we get out of the way and let God do his thing. It’s been life giving. Friday is a long night but in no way life draining. Physically, we may be tired but, spiritually, we are all the more excited that every Friday we get to speak the gospel to these guys. We pray that this would be the start of something in them and that, at some point, they will all come to know God.”