fall

 

 

Ahhh summer.  In ministry it’s filled with camps, trips and exhaustion.  In the world of my children it’s filled with more flexibility, days at the beach,  and of course camps. School starts for us in a week or so.  While I am looking forward to a “schedule” again, this time of year makes me feel more inadequate than every other time of the year combined.  As I read articles on how to “engage” us parents this Fall, I thought I would throw out some helpful hints from the Mom of three in JH and one in college.

Give Me Time
(And A Little Grace Too)

I am so thankful that you have calendars, planning and notices for me.  If you are offering “vision casting,” for the year even better.  While you are doing this, I am trying to get my feet under me as we return to the Fall and all that means.  Everyday involves pick up from soccer practice, football, and guitar lessons on top of school projects that are broken into “teams,” staying on top of homework being finished, the house not falling apart, dinner being made and eaten, and the “regular” stuff that never goes away. (I didn’t even mention we are in full time ministry too.)   I am getting voice and e-mails  along with texts from the school daily about another “need to know.”  I have had 400 papers shoved in front of me in the first 3 days of school.  I care, I am overwhelmed by re acclimating to a schedule that I don’t control.

 

Don’t Ask Me For Money

For three “at home:”

School Supplies: $400 (Why does every teacher require a “special” binder?”)  Uniforms/School Clothes:  $600  (This is with two pairs of pants and 3 shirts each.)   Shoes: AT LEAST $50 a pair if not more. (Once they hit “grown up” sizes all bets were off.) Sports Fees: $100 – $300 per sport (This does not include the “extra” money I am asked/required to bring for raffles, team snacks, new cleats and pictures.)  School Field Trips: $50- $60 per kid  (Thanks for starting the year off “right.”) The youth pastor not immediately asking for a deposit for the “Fall Retreat:”  Priceless. ( Please note “Only $150 per kid” is actually $450 for some of us BEFORE we ask which child wants to “sit this one out.”)   I have not even factored in the gas it takes to drive my children all over or regular “life expenses.”   It’s not that I “don’t care,”  I can’t give what I don’t have, at this point this includes time (see above.)  Notice I didn’t even touch the college student…

 

Before You Judge

I admit it, we can be “that parent.”   I am trying desperately to keep up with everything. It’s not fair, but the 15 different ways you communicate with me are helpful. AND I KNOW BETTER!!  If you have single parents, divorced parents, kids in Foster Care,  ask before you decide “the parent has just checked out”  My husband and I partner together in everything, plus I am always trying to push closer to Jesus.  AND  I feel like I am an abject failure most of the time.  We probably won’t offer it up, but if you genuinely ask, “What can I do to help?” we might not take you up the offer.  However, just offering makes it better.

In the end I am not asking for you to make a “special exception” for my child.  I am just reminding you that the unfortunate truth is youth group does not have the luxury of getting my single focus. We need you as a partner with us on this crazy journey with our kids.  My children need you as another Christ focused role model in their lives.

If you just give me until November I will have the Fall figured out, just in time to start looking at Basketball, Cheer and Christmas-  Oh and the Spring Retreat and next summer’s missions trip

Kickoff for the fall, there is nothing like it.  Everyone is focused on getting plugged in, connected, signed up and registered.  The summer dreams have come to an end, school is back in session and the thought, “Here we go again.” races through your mind.

For some of us the beginning of the year stresses us out and for others it excites us.  There is so much to do, so much to get done and then BOOM! The year starts and we are off.  It’s like a marathon where the anticipation before the race is killer; however, once you get moving you settle down.

Kickoff is a season that can race by; however, it’s also a season that needs to be embraced.  On top of fun memories of moon bounces and wild games, it’s really a season when you can strengthen your foundation.  It’s a season when you need to:

Recruit New Ministers – The best time to recruit other ministers is when the program is in full swing.  That way potential volunteers can:

  1. See the program in action.
  2. Talk to actively serving ministers
  3. Ask questions they might not have known to ask if inquiring during the summer

When you recruit new ministers right after kickoff you’ll have a positive excitement that will be contagious.

Invite More Teens – It makes sense to invite someone to an event before it happens; however, your ministry isn’t an event.  While you want to build up hype and momentum before the program begins you’ll want to put more afterwards.  By continuously inviting teens to your program your creating an open enrollment feeling.  So many times we give up on a class or a program because we miss the first session.  Ministry should be treated like any relationship, where you can step in at any time.

Build Margin – Once the year begins we feel our margin slip away; however, there is no better time.  You should be letting your leaders loose, let them fail, succeed and problem solve.  As the point person you should be able to take a step back, observe and take in the experience.  As soon as the year gets going, slow down and find that pace because it’s going to be a long year.

Kickoff is not the end of summer and it isn’t just the beginning of your ministry year.  It’s a mile marker that you should utilize to grow stronger.  Look for the opportunities in every situation and continue to move forward.

What other opportunities do you see during kickoff?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.



So it’s summer time. That’s a reality that I can get my head around. I like the sunshine, and at this point in my part of the world, that’s starting to feel like a rarity. (Hey there, flooded river due to rain … nice to see you stop by.) But when the summer starts to fade away and students are all busy getting that brand new wicked fresh trapper keeper for school, and parents are loathing back to school clothes shopping, well, that’s when I get all hyped up for Fall Kickoff.

I really feel like there’s a few times in the ministry season when you want to go all out. Like blow the doors off. One is Christmas, because Christmas is awesome. Make your space look like Santa’s elves exploded over everything. Another is the end of the season. You’ve made students suffer through your awkward sex talks, mediocre games and haphazard bible quizzes for an entire season, so now’s the time to redeem yourself with a stellar event for the ages. Forget the party, just head straight to the “After Party” party. Your students need to reason to blow off steam after all the exam anxieties are done and over. Put out a great spread of food, crank up the outdoor speakers, rent a bounce house, and turn on the sprinklers. It will be a great way to say thanks to your students and leaders for pressing forward. It’s also a super way to introduce new students into the mix without them feeling singled out.

But my favourite time to blow the roof off in a ministry season is Fall Kickoff. This is the time when everyone is ready for something different. They’re getting back into the swing of things, and what better way to let them know that youth group is right there with them, than by having a Kickoff event that brings the house down. Go after that band you’ve always wanted to bring in, partner up with some other youth groups, utilize the left over summer weather whileyou still can, and really ring in the new season with a sonic boom. It’s not about how big your budget is, but how loud you can get and how high you can set the bar for the season ahead. It says to your students that they are worth getting excited for, that they can expect big things ahead. Just don’t play all your cards on the first night as depicted in this photo from the 4th of July Fireworks in San Diego this year. 20 mins of fireworks in 15 seconds.

So go for it. Go big. Go for the win. Be loud. Be awesome.
And if you annoy the 55+ bible study going on next door, well then, all the better.

 

Kevin Downey is a veteran Youth Pastor from Chilliwack British Columbia (this is an actual place) , father, pastor and comic enthusiast. You can follow him on Twitter @revkev73.

-Geoff