I know that students are busy these days with extra curricular sports, music lessons, part time jobs and various other activities that lead to their perpetual business but last week it just got out of hand. A student who has been involved in our ministry for several months told me that, regrettably, she could not attend youth anymore. Her explanation for not being able to attend on Thursday nights: I have to ride my other horse! WHAT??? Other horse? I don’t have A horse let alone two. While I was not surprised that this happened, and it’s been a funny story to tell, it has caused me to think about what we can do to approach this issue.
Recently I heard Doug Fields talking about speaking to students and commented that when it comes to preaching “more isn’t better, better is better” and I think that rings true of all programming as well. If we get to see a student in our building one night a week it becomes important that we make the most of that opportunity. We have recently extended the length of our program to 2.5 hours and students show up as much as 3 hours early just to connect and spend time with leaders. We have moved away from multiple events per week to doing one major event per week and trying to do it really well. If we expect students to prioritize being at Youth, we need to prioritize making sure that when they come, we are ready for them. I would hate to be unprepared and waste an opportunity to speak into their lives if we only see them once a week.
So what can we do to deal with our busy students?
1- Don’t be discouraged! Easier said than done, but if an event is poorly attended it’s easy to be frustrated at all the work that went in to it. Just make sure you don’t take it out on the ones who showed up with your disappointed attitude but take the opportunity to give more of yourself to a smaller group.
2- Plan ahead: if its on the calendar far enough out and you promote it well or even better have a successful history with that event, students will schedule around it. Less is more with events, have fewer and make them can’t miss events and students will be there in force
3- Model it: If we are encouraging students to live lives that aren’t jammed packed with activities, we need to be the first to do it. Showing that balance is attainable gives our words more traction when we confront their fatigue and chronic activity.
4- Point them to Jesus: This is the most important thing we can show them, because we need to show students that in the midst of redeeming the world, Jesus found time to be alone, and not with people, or doing His ministry. It’s our responsibility to point our students to His example.
Not every student has two horses to ride, but I am sure you have all encountered students who have forever bouncing from one thing event to another. How are you dealing with it and encouraging students to have balance in their lives?
Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. You can, too! See how right here.