I recently was asked by a church what to do if there were volunteers, a budget and a desire for student ministry but only a couple students in their congregation. Here were three thoughts I shared with them:
1) Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that youth ministry is a meeting time slot with a program. If you have two or three teens connected to your church in any way, minister to them. Send them care packages. Send them birthday cards. Keep the door open. Utilize the time of your willing volunteers to not spend time thinking of programs, but spend time thinking about those students.
2) Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your youth ministry only consists of those students currently connected to your church. The number of students in your sphere of ministry is huge – it’s the number of kids in your community, in your school district, in the neighborhood around the church. How can the church minister to the kids in the school, the neighborhood, etc? Tutoring, volunteering for lunch duty at school, being a presence in the life of community activities, hosting a mom’s morning out for grade school kids one day a week in the summer?
3) Pray for the students in your community. What if the volunteers you have for student ministry used their 30 minutes to an hour a week allotted for ministry to pray? Walk around the schools and pray, walk around the church and pray, pray for students and families. Pray for students who may need the church – your church – in their lives. Pray they will respond. Pray for power.
4) Be patient and focus on the children and families in your church. Very soon, the children in your church will be growing up. Help resource families to raise kids in a busy and crazy world. Build programs and ministries for younger kids. Be ready for them to move up and be intentional about growing from there.
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