“No ski trip this year.” They were a little upset. I was too. I like skiing, but the trip was bringing the worst out of people. Not happy with the date, the location or even the video shown on the bus. It was a trip filled with dissatisfied consumers.
There is nothing wrong with a youth ministry ski trip. The problem is when it becomes THE EVENT. Meaning people care more about it than they do Mass, worship and getting to know Jesus. This is one of the signs that you are creating consumers.
If your youth ministry attracts consumers that’s okay. It’s only a problem if you keep them there. When the teens become entitled and demanding that’s when you need to start changing your strategy. To prevent consumerism in your ministry you need to make sure you:
TEACH INVEST AND INVITE
If the group never grows intentionally it will feel threatened when someone from the “outside” comes in. Teach on a regular basis the importance of investing in their peers. Remind them that the church is a movement. It’s supposed to grow.
Give them a vision of what it looks like when the church invests in others. Investors are people who pour in, consumers are people who take out. Invite them to be investors of life change. Challenge them to take a step out of their comfort zone by challenging them to grow other disciples.
STOP THE FUNDRAISERS
Your ministry needs money function but fundraising is not the way to go. Fundraisers raise consumers, instead you need givers. Teach your students about stewardship, tithing and sacrificial giving. Let them know it’s about their relationship with God.
To eliminate fundraising takes time. Make your first step teaching them about the importance of giving. Encourage your pastor to do the same with the adult congregation. Over time as the giving increases so will the need to fundraise.
DISMANTLE STUDENT LEADERSHIP GROUPS
Your ministry should focus on raising up leaders. The problem is when you pour too much of your time on the student leaders and forget about the rest of the teenagers. To grow healthy student leaders:
- Equip them with resources.
- Invest in them individually.
- Have them serve amongst the adults at your church.
The investment will go further because you’ll put them in a new arena. They’ll feel a part of the church even though they are young. It will set them up for future success.
Grow contributors by helping them take the focus off of themselves. Remind them that the church is not a club or a group. It’s a movement looking to go and make a difference in this world.
Where do you see the biggest examples of consumerism in youth ministry?