Athletics, plays, clubs, parachurch ministries, other youth groups, what do all of these have in common? Well, for many youth workers, what these have in common, are that they are all our competition! They take our students away from our youth ministry and we have to constantly try to plan and adjust schedules differently so that we are able to get as many students to youth group as possible. As we get ready to head back to school and think about all the many “competitors” we have to deal with, what if we began to adjust our thinking and see how these various areas are not our enemies, but rather, perfect ministry opportunities? Maybe some of you have already realized that there needs to be an adjustment of thinking, so I hope that this can get the ball rolling with some good starters.If your mission is to get students to come to you, then you are not fulfilling God’s plan. Click To Tweet
If your mission, whether you say it out loud or only think about it, is to get students to come to you, then you are not fulfilling God’s plan. Christ even called for us to “Go” and make disciples. So then, why are we so set on making sure students come to us? The reality is, that if your job as a youth minister is only spent in your office, then you need to adjust your thinking. You cannot always expect students to come to you, you are called to reach out to them as well and to go and meet them where they are. So, how do we begin to do that? If we are honest, it can often feel difficult nowadays for youth workers to go into a school, but here’s how you can at least start this process.
1. Go to the school(s) around you and contact the person in charge of a parachurch ministry there.
If you feel like you are having trouble getting your foot in the door, talk to someone that may already have their foot in the door. Parachurch ministries are not the enemy. You are all on the same team trying to reach out to youth and sharing with them about God’s Kingdom and the Gospel He has given us. This may be tough, but who cares if they may be doing better at this than you, you are not here to build your own little kingdom (or youth ministry numbers that your church leadership may look at and say “good job”), but you are here to build God’s Kingdom. Talk to those parachurch ministries that are already involved in the school and see how you all could work together and use resources to better reach out to students. Yes, it is important for students and others to be a part of the body of Christ and attend a local church, but it means that you are going to have to reach out and meet them.
2. Meet with the administration.
This is a simple one, just meet with the administration at the school(s) that are around you. Tell them that you are willing to help serve or provide help for them in any way that you can. Most likely this relationship and trust will take time, but once again, if there is already a parachurch ministry involved, they can put in a good word for you!
One way to show the administration you are there to help and serve them and the community is to find someone in your church or that you know who is good with numbers and financial planning and offer to host a financial planning/training for parents of juniors and seniors wanting to go to college. Looking at financials and scholarships is tough but it would show them that you are truly trying to serve and care for them. This is only one of many different ways you could serve the students and their parents.
3. Train your volunteers and adult leaders to use their skills to go into the schools.
Do you have strong, biblically-grounded people in your church that have a little time they are willing to give up? Are they also people that have a certain set of skills with different sports, cooking, financial stability, plays/acting, or anything else? If so, get them involved in the school(s) around them! For example, if they are a strong soccer player and you have built a relationship with some of the administration and teachers, set a meeting for all of you to connect. Maybe they will be able to help out on the soccer team as a coach. Yes, you will not be able to share Christ with them openly, but you will be surprised at the opportunities and openness students will have with their coaches when they see their coaches care about them. They will begin to ask questions and even notice that coaches that are Christians are different from those that are not.Be careful that you are not just building our own little, personal kingdom at our own church. Click To Tweet
Remember, we should be careful that we are not just trying to build our own little personal kingdom at our own church. Maybe you’re reading this and you’re thinking that your youth ministry is big and thriving and you don’t need to do any of this. If you are thinking that, please be very careful, because we can always do more to reach out to others and we need to remember our other brothers and sisters out in the battle as well. So set your ego aside and think about what might be the best way to go and reach out to other students as this school year begins.
Think not how you are going to “compete” with all these different activities, but think of how you will use those activities to your advantage to reach out to the youth in your community.
What are other ways that you have tried to get connected with schools or other ministries? Please feel free to share and get the conversation started.
Tristen Davis graduated from Taylor University studying Social Studies Education and youth ministry. He’s had the unique opportunity to have his foot in both worlds of teaching in a school and being a youth pastor. He has been blessed to have volunteered and worked with youth for the past seven years in various roles and is excited to see how God will continue to use him. You can always check out more of his writings at tristenchats.wordpress.com.