Did you hear it? Sometimes programs in the church die with a bang and other times with a whimper. This past week, youth Sunday school at Central died quietly…
Change— It’s a small word with big implications. It means making some hard decisions sometimes. It means disrupting our routine. It can be scary, or exciting. It is inevitable. And it is messy…
When it comes to the church, change is sometimes hard to embrace. But not for students! Change is the hallmark of adolescence. Their lives are in a constant state of flux. This should be the definition of the teenage years! They are changing physically with constant growth spurts, acne, increased skills and clumsiness. They are changing socially with shifting interests, friendships, and independence. They are changing intellectually, moving from concrete to abstract thinking, widening their perspective and becoming more idealistic. And any parent of a mood swinging teenager can tell you they are changing emotionally.
Teenagers are changing spiritually too, no longer accepting, “because the Bible says so” as an answer. They begin to question the faith of their childhood. They seek to apply spiritual principals to life and begin looking for different ways to experience what they’ve been taught at church.
Their environments change as well. Over the course of teenage years, students will change schools upwards of three times. That doesn’t even count the myriad extracurricular activities, camps and teams of which they will be a part. And, if our students are part of the Fayetteville School system, even more big changes are happening this fall.
All of these changes are good and necessary, but they are still messy. And as a church and student ministry, we have to continue to make changes as well to serve them better.
Reggie Joiner, and our friends over at the Re-Think Group wrote this in a recent article:
“The game is changing. Life has shifted more dramatically in the past hundred years than it did the thousand years before. It’s altered more in the past 5 years alone than it did in the previous 50 years. What does this mean for the next 3 years? The next 10 years?
And we’re not playing a game. The stakes in the church are higher than they’ve ever been. As student ministry leaders, we risk the future of this generation if we ignore the rapid change of pace.
The gospel is messy; Jesus stepped onto the planet and wow! Fast forward to today—we’re witnessing an upcoming generation that doesn’t think the gospel is messy enough. Students believe the church is run more like a business that is focused inward when they want to experience ministry that reaches out to our community and world. This is a scary concept for many churches. But students want to love and care for the people around them—even if it’s a risky business to be in.”
So, we made the plan to change what we do on Sunday mornings with youth. We want to be more purposeful. We want to tap into our students desire to serve. We want to re-energize what youth see as a “dead” concept. We know it is a big change—messing with Sunday school is messing with decades of UM history.
Change is inevitable. But we knew it would be messy. So, when I told our students that there would be no more Sunday school, I thought there would be a big outcry. But our students just said, “Ok. Cool. What’s next?” (Kids today…)
So here’s what’s next for Central Student Ministries: In August we begin a new Sunday morning service program. Instead of coming to class, students in 7th-12th grades will be plugged in around our church campus serving in different ministry capacities. It will be geared toward students who want to be involved in hands-on service to their church. Students will have opportunities to sign up to help in lots of different areas around our church campus–either directly involved in our worship service or helping to support it.
Our students are eager to serve and to be part of the church today. This will give them opportunities to love and care for the congregation of which they are a part. And, it is imperative that we see our young people as a vital and important part of our congregation if we are to be the church that God calls us to be. So when you see our students serving around our church campus, we hope you will encourage and value their desire to be in ministry to their church. And I hope that they inspire you to serve as well!
Don’t Miss These Upcoming Events!!
August 16 at 5:00 pm kicks off our weekly Sr. High Sunday Night program.
September 11 – 13 is our Sr. High Fall Retreat to New Life Ranch.
August 23 at 5:30 pm kicks off our NEW Jr High weekly program with a Family Dinner and Commissioning.
August 28 is our Jr. High Fall Retreat. (Location TBA)
Director of Student Ministries