Well, before I answer this question, let me give you some back-story.
September of 2013 our church plant started gathering weekly. Out of our love for the next generation, we decided that our first full time hire would be a Next Generations Pastor to oversee Kids and Youth. Over the past two years we have seen many great things happen in our kids and youth ministries. Eight weeks ago our Next Generation Pastor left to seek a position as a Senior Pastor. When this happened I knew that hiring another person to run these departments was not the fix. We had to firmly establish the WHY and the WHAT of our youth ministry before bringing in another person to run it. So I decided to step in and become the Youth Pastor as well as the Senior Pastor of our Church.
When you start leading something it is more important to discover “where you are” before you decide “where you are going”. So over the past eight weeks in leading the student ministry I’ve been looking at where we are as a group. Here is what I’ve discovered.
It is not a large group. Before April we had about 25 students coming to our midweek gatherings on a regular basis.
Still building identity. The group of individual teenagers that gathers is still trying to discover their identity as a group. They are friendly with each other but there is not a lot of cohesion between individual students. We are in one place, but we are not together as one.
Young in age and faith. The majority of the students that attend each week are between the ages of 12 to 15 and many are very young in their personal walk with Jesus.
Not enough trained volunteers. The few people that are a part of the youth ministry are incredible, but there is not very many of them and most are not trained in how to walk out leadership in a youth ministry environment.
The students are hungry. From the very first week in meeting with the students, I could see that they are hungry to do be a part of something special. If given the chance they would bring their friends, serve in ministries, and make an impact in their friends.
Once we took the time to discover where we are, we started looking at not only where we want to be at in the fall, but what steps do we need to take as a group in order to get there.
We will begin to grow the group. Numbers matter because people matter. Every Number is a name! Every name has a story and every story matters to God. We want to reach more teenagers for Jesus!
We will establish clear vision. Vision is the thing that brings different types of people together. Give people a “common cause” and you will have “community”.
We will build a strong, well trained team. Take the summer to establish teams of students and adults to run and facilitate the weekly work of the ministry.
Use students hunger for more to gain momentum. The students want to have more fun, hang with more friends, and have more gatherings. So we will use the desire they have for more physical things, to give us the opportunity to see God do the spiritual things they need.
Ok, now that we have the back-story set up. Lets answer the question that I’m blogging about today. Why did we do an outreach event and not reach out to the schools?
Knowing that the students are hungry for more, we need to build a volunteer team, have a common cause to build community, and reach more students than we currently are. We decided to do an outreach event. We wanted to give teenagers a physical reason to attend, so we could share Gods word personally, and they could begin to be renewed spiritually.
Four weeks ago we started planning out, and building momentum toward our first ever "Black Light Food Fight". Here is what the night consisted of:
Before the service- the first 25 teenagers at the door would receive a free T-Shirt.
During the service - we would do a message titled “The Value of You”. You can view this message by Clicking Here
After the service - we would give away a Hover Board and do a giant food fight.
In order to reach out to more students on this night, we decided to:
Announce it for four weeks in Youth Service.
Announce it for four weeks in our Weekend Services at TheCHURCH.
Do Social Media Pushes.
Give students “food fight” bracelets so they could hand them out and personally invite their friends.
The reason that we decided to not do anything “corporately” as a student ministry in the local schools like; school lunch visits, school assemblies, or passing out flyers to students. The reason we did not work with FCA, Sports Teams, Music Departments, or other student organizations is simply because we know all of those things work. Reaching out to the local schools, would have caused a lot of students to attend our event and that is exactly what we did not want.
With where our youth ministry currently is, reaching out to the schools would have caused us to have more students attend than our student and volunteer base could have handled.
We would have had an incredible night. If we would have done what we know to do in the schools, we could have had 150 to 200 students show up for the Food Fight and it would have been a complete loss.
Here are three reasons why:
Our current students would have felt completely lost by the overwhelming number of visitors to their group. They don’t even know each other yet. With the size that we currently are, to have 100 to 200 strangers in the group would not have brought the group together it would have torn it apart. We need our students to know this is their group, so they stick around, get plugged in, pursue Jesus and become a foundation that can be built upon.
The team we assembled could have run the Black Light Food Fight with out much trouble. However, we could not have continued to minister to 100 to 200 students on a weekly basis, The team currently lacks the size and training to minister effectively on a weekly basis to that size of a group.
Because the ministry is not ready to add 100 to 200 teenagers. Going into the schools and getting all of these kids to show up would have been an incredible night, but we would have quickly lost all of the students that we gained. Pouring 5 gallons of milk into a one gallon container makes a mess. We are not looking for a mess, we are looking for spiritual momentum in the lives of teenagers.
Those are the reasons why we did an outreach event and didn't reach out to the schools. However, what we did do was inspire and equip our students to bring their personal friends to the event and it worked.
8 weeks ago we had 3 adults volunteering ... at the food fight we had 18.
8 weeks ago we had 25 students attending ... at the food fight we had 73.
This outreach event was a great win. Because it gave us what we need the most. It gave us momentum and not a mess.
We will take the summer to cast vision, build teams, build relationships, and build disciples so that in the fall, we will be ready to reach out to the area schools! We started.
Here are some questions for you and your team:
Do you know where you currently are?
Do you know where you want to go?
Have you thought through the steps you need to take in order to get from where you currently are to where you want to go?