Our youth ministry calendar this year has a bunch of new stuff on it. We added retreats and trips that we’d never done before, based mostly on a perception that, while regular weekly commits abound in our students’ lives, opportunities to get away overnight (or several nights) with peers are less frequent.
Each of these overnight events draws a unique community that I am certain will never be together again in exactly that configuration. Of course, that is increasingly true of the weekly gathering, too; attendance patterns no longer support a regular, repeatable community of participants week after week. This week’s community won’t be back again.
Perhaps this sounds dramatic, but it feels like a good time to start thinking of every group gathering we schedule as a one-off where we don’t assume a level of familiarity between students and we don’t expect facility with the habits and ideas we’re trying to teach.
This isn’t bad. It would be true of something brand new.