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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Is the Bad Economy Good for Youth Ministry?

I received an email today from the student ministry I serve in communicating that we are canceling both middle school and high school summer camp opportunities. My first reaction was sadness. Summer camps are such influential spiritual mile markers for kids, memory makers for students and youth leaders, and community builders for youth ministries. I can remember most, if not all, the camps that I attended from the time I was kid through middle school/high school, and on into leadership as a volunteer and youth pastor. These were/are helpful times to deepen friendships and refocus on the heart of God. And to think that the teenagers I work with will miss out on those unique opportunities is tough to hear.

But then I got to thinking...I wonder if this is really a blessing in disguise. Will this help youth ministries get simpler? No need for all the bells and whistles to market/sell kids on camp. Energies can now be put to better use connecting with hurting students, encouraging leaders, and supporting families. This is what really matters, right?

Will this help youth ministries get more creative about creating memories, building community, and developing deeper relationships for spiritual impact? We rely so much (sometimes for good; sometimes for bad) other peoples work to do this for us that we miss out on being in touch with students, their world and the Holy Spirit. We forget to listen, follow and serve the students we are shepherding. Who knows are kids better than our kids and the Holy Spirit?

Will it help youth ministries be more financially responsible to the church and to families? Most of the time youth ministries have had the cavalier attitude that if we promote it that it has to be from God and kids/families are fools not to sign up. We get offended that they say no. Then we get scared because so much of personal, professional, and ministerial identities flow from the number of kids we have going to events (not to mention the reviews we get from senior pastor, supervisor, or committee that we report to)

How does this impact smaller youth ministries? How does this impact larger youth ministries? How does this impact camps and retreat centers? How does this impact kids and families for good or for bad?

Just some things I am thinking about. What do you think?

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