Ministry With Youth Who Have A Lot To Do Is Hard, But In A Good Way

I have a student who will miss multiple dates related to Confirmation in the coming months due to conflicts with other activities she is involved in. First there is a concert with the local youth symphony. Then there is a national debate tournament. Finally, there is citywide Model United Nations.

It is a common enough complaint that youth are over-scheduled, but read the previous three sentences again and tell me which one of those opportunities you would tell a student to pass up in deference to church. Some of us are in ministry with youth who have a lot to do because their families and their schools and their communities provide them with an abundance of enriching opportunities. Also, those students are amazing.

If your view of this situation is that it’s a problem for youth ministry, you’re in the wrong field.

Ministry with youth who have a lot to do is not the same as ministry with youth with not a lot to do. It’s harder. Not simply because youth group and the spring retreat are competing for time, but also because the value proposition of church is less explicit than the value proposition of Model UN. That church is a community of belonging where young people are known and valued because they are children of God and not because they can play the oboe is powerful and life-changing, but it doesn’t exactly sell tickets. Participation is entirely elective. There is no First Chair or Captain or MVP.

A parent once asked me to create an officer structure for the youth group so that his son could list it on his college application. I don’t think I will ever do that.

Church is the people who call you by name and embrace you whenever you appear, and no less warmly for your having missed the last three weeks conquering the world.