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June 16, 2008

Where have all the youth girls gone?

I've been officially in student ministry for three years now. Two as an actual paid "professional" and one as the interim leader/kid who knows nothing. Seems strange to think of it that way because I still feel as though I know nothing. During meetings with both students and leaders, I used to remind them often that I didn't know what I was doing but I've since put an end to that! It's really been a tough few years, given that I really have nowhere to turn when I don't know the answers. If I'm being honest, it's often felt like it was me against my leaders for various reasons, many of which might have been justified. Ultimately, it would seem that, as a leader, the failure is pretty much always my fault.

Right now, I'm attempting to get the boys and girls together on Wednesday nights. We would come together and hang out for a little while...maybe play some frisbee or something like that and then split our guys and girls for study time. The only problem - NO GIRLS! I've tried calling some girls, asking face to face, texting and still, none of them will show up. Is it me?

For a long time, I've always pictured how my ministry would look and right now, it doesn't look that way. We currently meet in small groups. The guys meet on Wednesday nights and the girls meet on Sunday nights. It is a rare day when they all get together for anything, mostly because the girls won't be a part of what we're doing. Most of them are involved in a large group setting at another church here in town. Thus you might have caught onto my dilemma. How do I go about creating a "student ministry" rather than simply having two gender specific small groups? Here's kind of what I envision.

We meet as a large group on a given night each week. This is the place where kids come who want to hear about Jesus. They are simply there to attend and are not ready to necessarily give their life to Jesus, but are open to hearing about Him. The kids who desire to know more than just hearing about Jesus would be the ones who attend our small groups. These kids have made the choice to be a Jesus follower. Ideally, I think these groups should only have like 5 kids each so they can really learn about spiritual community. Over time, they might grow with a couple more kids, but eventually they would split again to make sure they stay small.

The natural course of these groups would lead some of these kids into deeper levels of intimacy with Christ. Those kids are going to want to learn spiritual "habits" and desire to do so on their own. The group helps them accomplish this, but with or without the group, God is taking them places. They've come to a point where they've fallen in love with the person of God rather than the idea or the benefit of knowing God. Beyond this level are the kids that the leadership of the ministry take under their wing. The kids with passion to discover their gifts and have a greater desire to serve than to be served, discipling and evangelism. Under the guidance of the leaders, these kids are taught how to do these things effectively and given opportunity to practice. Maybe the high school student will help lead a junior high group, or be given responsibilities in our large group setting.

I know this is a rough start, but how do I get all this translated into an actual vision that my leaders will want to get behind? I really feel that I'm alone in this venture a lot. I've only got one leader who supports and encourages it, but can't seem to get the rest on board. Maybe we've been going at things the same way for too long that we can't just change it. I hate the idea of blowing it all up, but lately I've been feeling it's the only want to make it happen. Is this something that needs to happen with a new leader? I struggle so much with the idea that God is leading me away from Laramie and the passion He's placed in me for this. It feels that God is giving me conflicting passions and maybe this is just a test to see if I'll follow through with something or if I'll just sit there like a fish out of water. I really believe a lot of Christians sit there asking God for direction when He's really given them multiple choices and is just up there yelling, "Do something!" I'm on my knees right now answering back, "I'm ready."


Mell said...

Thanks Jon for sharing your heart and passions. I know God is growing you immensely as a leader of ESM and as a follower of Himself. Thanks for listening to his calling! - Mell

Mell said...

Thanks Jon for sharing your heart and passions. I know God is growing you immensely as a leader of ESM and as a follower of Himself. Thanks for listening to his calling! - Mell