I hate to assume that there is a problem but…
Here’s the problem: Youth groups sometimes look like well oiled machines that use up a lot of time and energy, create some flashy bangs and then each year have to quickly flush out the old and bring in the new. Leaders have to find new students to connect with as deeply as they can before the next cycle comes through, students who are now adults need to grow up as quick as possible and somehow find a mentor to lead them through the college years, and all the while this machine can run pretty much independently from the rest of the body. The problem it seems is “static” leadership. We build up “High-school ministry volunteers” instead of building up Paul’s and Timothy’s.
Here is the idea: What if we weren’t static? What if leaders “followed” their Timothy’s throughout the years?
Here is an example of what it could look like: Say I have one High school teen that is growing in their faith and looking for the “next step”. I would connect that student into the Children’s Ministry with a group of students who are as far away from High school as my teen is away from college. Then, as both the teen and the student grow, they would progress together and stay connected with each other. Then by the time the Children’s Ministry student was in the Youth Ministry, he/she may be looking for their own “next step” and the process recycles.
This would naturally create a “life long” ministry where students and leaders would not have to quickly cycle out their mentors and “mentees” but become deep life long partners. This idea seems to me pretty huge (and certainly not easy), but the pay off, from this vantage point, looks incredible.
Benefits: Deep relationships (Timothy’s and Paul’s), a constant flow of up-coming leaders and mentors, Inter connection between ministries (Children’s ministry to Youth ministry in the example, but it doesn’t have to stop there), helps students put in perspective the initial shock of college, it seems like there would be considerably less “burn out” among leaders because they are simply sharing life with a reasonable number of people. The possibilities seem endless.
This is the short version, so there are things I don’t have space to include like the role of “head” youth leaders, or the long lasting effects this could have on not only a church but a community, needless to say there is much to say about this, so…
Here are the questions I have:
Has anyone ever heard of anything like this before? If so, how did it go historically?
What are some possible negative outcomes that you can see?
Just looking for the counsel of many. Thanks
The River Church
Long Beach, CA