I hear this cry in almost every church where I do a Small Church/Youth Ministry Architects assessment. Adults repeat it in one form or another; sometimes it sounds like an excuse for why their kids don’t come. Sometimes its a lament to explain low numbers. Either way, I’m not sold on it as a good reason for why their youth ministry isn’t up to par in sustainability and functionality.
Here’s why: I started a year-long coaching/teaching cohort through the TN UMC Young People’s office. In this fellowship hall were about 60 people from 13 small churches around TN. The requirement was #100 or less in worship to qualify for the program. During the day, a youth ministry pair, Carlos and Miriam, told me the story of why they were yawning all morning. It wasn’t my teaching, they said. (Whew!) They had been up late the night before cleaning up from a youth/family sports nutrition class sponsored by their church for the local soccer players. Their fellowship hall had been full!
Get this:Â When they were asked to lead their youth ministry, they had two kids…though they knew there were lots of kids connected to the church and on the rolls. Where were they? On the soccer field, that’s where. So Miriam and Carlos began to hold youth group at the soccer fields. At their first meeting? 42 youth attended.Â Now each week, they know the soccer players favorite healthy snacks and personal delivery of said snack is part of their youth ministry.
So go head and try to tell me your kids are too busy for youth ministry. Maybe its the church that’s too busy. Maybe its time for the church to turn things upside down and take it to the streets. Or the ball fields, so to speak.