Again this weekend I headed out to Ohio for the Franciscan High School Conference, which again was a blast. This group of students like the last group was a joy to be around; however, unlike the last group these students knew one another a little better. The majority of the students that came with me are heavily involved in our student ministry. They are ministers, in small groups and come to our weekly worship Uprising. For me it was slightly easier because I know this experience will just give them more energy as they go back to their small groups, and serve in their ministries. And it feels good when you have that type of system set-up. But there are still the students who are not connected. What about them?
For the students in our church who are not yet connected with a small group or a ministry they are going to be assigned a mentor who’s goal is to help a student get connected. What we have is not a perfect system, but it bares a lot of fruit because these relationships make a students process for getting invested more organic.
This weekend I had a conversation with a student from another church who was telling me that their youth minister was recently fired. He was fired because the youth ministry around him was falling apart, students were no longer attending and apparently another youth group was formed outside the church by parents. I asked the student what the other youth group was like and she said that she didn’t know because it was only for a few students. Basically it was closed group because the parents who started it didn’t want it to get out of hand. You could tell this student was excited about the conference but sad to know that this connection with a Christ filled community would be over in a matter of days, it frankly broke my heart, I didn’t know what to say.
I never want to put a student in that situation. This year with our events and our worship programs (Resurrection and Uprising) we are aiming to connect students into authentic relationships. I don’t want students to be disconnected to their church. I don’t want students to feel as if there is no place for them, I don’t want anyone to be closed out. And all of that will happen if we aren’t connecting them with adults and other students in Christian fellowship.
Today I encourage all those that read this blog just to pray with me for the student ministries that struggle, the youth ministers who are on the verge of burnout and the teens who feel shutout of a faith community. I pray that Holy Spirit comes to fill them with the focus, guidance and energy they need to create an authentic Christ-like environment for the young church.