This is a reprint of my Small Church Youth Ministry column in Jan/Feb 2011? issue of Group.? ? (I even asked? Rick’s permission to print it!) Want an uber cheap subscription rate to Group? Only $15!!! (normally 29.95) http://www.SimplyYouthMinistry.com/Awesome
“Time to Take Out the Trash”?
Three times each ministry year, I feel like starting over: summer, back-to-school, and the new year. At the beginning of each school year, we all try out new variations on programming, small groups, curriculum, and maximizing our volunteer leaders.
By December, we should be clued in to whether these changes are working-even if we can’t quite admit when they aren’t. By Christmas break, we’re often so tired of hearing about whatever change everyone hates that we set aside the problem and the stress. But by the new year, it’s time to take out the trash. If the fresh idea didn’t work, fix it. Gather everyone together for a chat and work together on solutions. Admit to your team, kids, and parents: “Hey, I tried something new, and it stunk.” Just as God allows U-turns, it’s okay to admit we aren’t always right and then correct our course. ?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? In fact, why not take the garbage idea that didn’t work and turn it into an experiential, hands-on, teachable moment? Create a lesson or multi-week theme out of it. Call it “Taking Out the Trash” or “Dumpster Dying.” Use it as an opportunity to explore ways to deal with failure. Help teenagers discover healthy ways to die to themselves and start over when they make mistakes. For biblical impact, tie that message into what God’s Word says about fresh starts (for example, see the account of Saul/Paul; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:5; and so on).
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? To carry the theme even further, use lots of giant black trash bags for games. Have relay races while wearing the bags, hold a costume contest with only trash bags and duct tape, and go on an eco-friendly scavenger hunt (give each team a bag and a list of trash items to find).
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? For a serious moment kids won’t forget, have small groups meet around a Dumpster. Incorporate the multisensory sights, smells, and sounds into how sin trashes up our lives. Help teenagers connect this experience to problem areas in their own lives. End by having them write down their mistakes and toss them into the Dumpster.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Each new year, many people make resolutions about things they’d like to change. Usually it’s a futile, short-lived effort. But you can impact kids for a lifetime by letting them know that God allows us to trade in our ashes for beauty (see Isaiah 61:3). ?