One thing that I think youth workers are really good at is embracing change. We are trained to watch trends in culture, and we’re always attempting to adapt. Look at how quickly we embraced social media, and began using it to better our communication with our students.
While the rest of the church has to lead a congregation of adults who may be resistant to change, we are fortunate to work with students, who in this day and age are constantly watching the world change before them…(iPhones, anybody?)
These are all good things when you are trying to bring about healthy change in your ministry but…Recently while listening to a student tell me the story of his life; I realized that more of his life had been about change than about consistency. I walked away from that conversation challenged to re-think my love of change. Maybe what he needed from me wasn’t my adaptability to changing times but rather my stability.
How do we embrace stability while maintaining relevancy?
1. Make it about relationships. We ask our adult leaders to make a commitment of at least one year. We believe that only when adults show up consistently in a life of a student does it matter what they are saying or even how they say it. Relationships matter. I’ve been at my church for 11 years now, I am getting up there in age but my students know I love them and am committed to them…which matters a whole lot more than whether or not I know what the latest song is by Miley Cyrus.
2. Clarify your purpose. If you know why you do what you do…the flashy bright lights might grab your attention for a moment but you won’t lose focus of where you are going. I love shiny objects but if they don’t enhance or support our purpose than I need to learn to walk away. Our small group programs is about connecting and growing, the purpose helps me determine what is needed to make this a better program. It is not the newest game or best graphics. It is doing the things that lead to connection and growing. I am finding that when my students know the purpose, they only want to do those things at the program. Clarity leads to stability.
3. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat. If it works, it meets the purpose and if students are in relationship with adults and other students. Repeat. Don’t worry that it isn’t changing…it’s working and it doesn’t need to change.
Embrace stability in your ministry and provide a safe place for your students whose whole worlds are constantly changing.
– Neely / @neelym
Want to read more from Neely McQueen? Check out a great resource by her for the girls in your youth ministry: 99 Thoughts Every Girl Needs to Know.