I read an article in The Tennessean that talked about starting school in July in an effort to boost test schools for some districts. I have no qualms one way or the other but I wonder what does a youth ministry do when the children have to go to school all year-round? Most camps, mission trips and major activities are done in the summer for many churches and if you take the summer away what do you do? It would force youth ministers and families to change how they function as a ministry but ideally the spiritual formation would never change. I would say that those whose focus on programmatic youth ministry solely would suffer a decline in attendance and may lose vision. But, youth ministries should be able to function regardless. But…if youth ministries did have to adapt to year-round schooling it would force us to do three things:
- A shift from recreation to transformation. You just don’t have that many times to be able to connect with the kids and so maximizing the amount of time in class and formation would be the natural shift. We do not throw out recreation though but there cannot be those long trips or those huge mission endeavors. Speaking of mission…
- A shift from foreign mission to local mission. Sure there will be week-long breaks in there a few times but, as a father of four, those breaks probably need to be for the families not the youth ministries. This means that those long, costly, trips to foreign destinations will be few and far between. The foreign missions will not cease (I am not against them at all) as other schools will not be year-round but naturally (hopefully, at least) there will be more of a missional focus at home. This is a good thing.
- Finally, a need to partner with schools and leverage their resources. Maybe youth ministries need to get in the school system some how and find unique ways to minister to kids from within. No you don’t have to come preaching on a soapbox with a bullhorn (not recommended anywhere btw) but simply come and serve the students, the teachers, the administrators or even the janitors. Find ways to do it. Click here for an article by Shaun Ellis called, “Youth Ministry Through Public Schools”. Great stuff.
That’s not all the ideas…what can you add or take away?