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Need advice...

Discussion in 'Children and Youth Ministry' started by Tod222, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. Tod222

    Tod222 New Member

    2
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    United States
    Christian
    Married
    Hey everyone,

    I am new here and in need of some guidance and prayer. My husband and I are youth pastors at a church where the average church member is around 70 years old. There are very few family’s that attend and many have left throughout the years. Our youth group has suffered in numbers as a result of this, going from around 12 to 4 students in the last year. Currently we have 1 youth who is actually from our church. We pick up about 3-4 others who live around town, and we have about 2 other youth who find rides and are able to come on occasion. Lately, many of them have been busy or out of town, so there have been weeks where we have had virtually no youth. At first we felt alright with it. It felt like an invitation to really invest in and disciple the few that we had on a personal level. But lately we have been feeling very insecure about it all. Our Pastor told us that if we are truly in our calling that people should flock to our ministry. There has been a major emphasis placed on numerical growth and we just don’t know what to do. First of all, our focus has never been numerical growth. It has always been discipleship and to see lives sincerely changed but God. Secondly, I really believe that the youth can only grow if the church brings in more young families. We have talked about this with our Pastor, but it doesn’t seem to fully register even though he agrees in the moment. It always comes back to what we are doing wrong and questioning if we are truly operating in our calling. I sometimes feel as though they are just waiting for us to step down (though we don’t yet feel ready). I don’t want to believe that the youth group has decreased in number as a result of God no longer wanting us there, but lately I have wondered if our Pastor is right. My husband and I have prayed and still haven’t felt released from where we are at (we could be hearing incorrectly). I honestly don’t know what to do at this point. Advice and prayers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Tiffany
     
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  2. devin553344

    devin553344 I believe in the Resurrection

    +2,114
    United States
    Christian
    Single
    US-Republican
    Well when I was active with youth we did fun stuff with them. Scouting and such and they loved it. The youth really engaged. You could look into scouting programs if you're not already.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  3. TraceMalin

    TraceMalin Member

    79
    +72
    United States
    Presbyterian
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    US-Others
    I became the only SCUBA instructor in the world ever to be certified to teach solo diving in underwater caves. I was the training director for 2 certification agencies, the winner of the Northeast Regional Ultimate Diver Competition, an Aquanaut who lived on the ocean floor as an underwater habitat specialist and on the board of directors of 5 diver safety agencies. I earned over 100 certifications, received the Hal Watts Elite Cave Diving Award for 1000+ cave dives, the Abe Davis International Award for 100 safe cave dives in 5 countries, the SSI Platinum Pro Award for 7500+ lifetime dives and worked as a commercial diver doing underwater construction. I have skill videos on YouTube demonstrating techniques of performance that are considered to be among the best in the world.

    God was with me every step of the way. While other diving instructors turned out masses of divers like McDonald's, I was like Mr. Miagi or Obi Wan Kenobi looking for that one karate kid or Jedi. To say diving wasn't my calling based upon numbers would be preposterous!

    It sounds like your calling is being limited by your church. Isn't the history of Christianity full of disciples, clergy, and missionaries struggling against all odds? I recently made a post about growing up in a neighborhood in Pennsylvania in the 70's and 80's where my entire high school class went to Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Jehovah's Witness churches. Everyone I ever knew was a Christian growing up and we all went to Sunday School, Boy & Girl Scouts, Youth Group, and Bible School (summer camp).

    Kids are not doing things like we did. Even golf is affected by a lack of interest. You are fighting the good fight to get kids involved AND involved as Christians. When I was a lifeguard supervisor, I could only get 1 of my 70+ lifeguards to learn to snorkel, freedive and scuba dive. As a kid, I'd drive 3 hours to NJ, 7 hours to Virginia Beach, and 4 hours to Rhode Island to surf and spearfish.

    Maybe and online youth group/ministry might be a way to reach the couch potato generation? Then, get 'em off the couch. You were called. Don't quit.
     
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  4. timothyu

    timothyu Well-Known Member

    +1,720
    Canada
    Non-Denom
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    Wrong. The Pastor is the one with the flock problem and is passing responsibility onto you. Typical upper management move.
     
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  5. TraceMalin

    TraceMalin Member

    79
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    Presbyterian
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    Have you talked to the parents and kids to find out why some stopped coming?
     
  6. Llleopard

    Llleopard Member

    195
    +162
    New Zealand
    Christian
    Married
    Really feel for you! My husband has taken over as pastor to a church where the average age is over 70. We have two families, with 4 junior youth. When we came into the role, we heard most people saying yes! Bring change, make the place relevant, encourage new families! But what they do in practice is very different, and actively drives families away. We are currently working on the attitudes of the people, helping them decide on a 'vision statement' and leading church direction, and making sure that includes children and youth as an important ministry. We are making the children visible - instruments during singing, dancing allowed, youth encouraged to pray and asked to share from the pulpit what God is doing with them. Youth led service coming up, and pics of the kids to take and pray for etc. We worked with the youth to make a notice board right where you come in. Before.. there was no sign of kids in the building. We keep the board very up to date and refresh it often. We mention the kids at every opportunity. Gradually people are becoming more accepting that the kids matter. We struggle with the group thing too. What we would like to see happen is less of a bible study group cos our youth all go to Christian school. more activities to make it relevant to our community. Like start with maybe 6 activities for kids to do half hour slots in, cooking, learn drums, craft, tech, basketball etc. And a bible activity that kids rotate to once a fortnight. The prob is getting the church to back it, cos it's different and they don't understand it! It's a work in progress to grow a new culture. Some days we want to give up too, but like you, I don't think God's finished with us yet. Your pastor is certainly not supporting you well, and it is sounds unfair to criticize without backing you or getting involved himself. have you made proposals of things you want to do, showing what benefits there are both to the kids and community and the church as well? Make sure decisions are minuted so you can hold people accountable. Invite the pastor. Make things if can get involved with like a progressive dinner! It's a hard situation-hang in there! Oh, and the big one-pray pray pray and ask others you trust to pray for you and the youth as well! !
     
  7. timothyu

    timothyu Well-Known Member

    +1,720
    Canada
    Non-Denom
    Private
    I've been thinking way back to the days of youth in our little community church. Why did it thrive? Because it wasn't run like a business or corporate entity.
     
  8. Aussie Pete

    Aussie Pete Well-Known Member Supporter

    594
    +513
    Australia
    Non-Denom
    Divorced
    Hi Tiffany. God is far more concerned with quality than numbers. Statistically, most churchgoers are not even born again. If you can find one person who has a genuine desire to be for real with God, you are doing something worthwhile for the Kingdom. Our fellowship has been as many as 40 and as few as two. We believe that we are called to continue until Lord Jesus commands us to stop. "The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable". Some of God's most faithful servants would be considered complete failures by most means of assessment. Apart from God's point of view, that is. An English missionary, Margaret Barber, was a tremendous help to Watchman Nee, who went on to be one of the most influential Christians ever. My mentor, a Mr Ivor Marshall, now with the Lord, is hardly a household name. Yet he was the finest Christian I've ever met. If God is saying it's time to change direction, fine. But please don't be swayed by numbers. It's never the best indicator of "success"
     
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  9. timothyu

    timothyu Well-Known Member

    +1,720
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    Non-Denom
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    I wonder. Is he responsible for the missing parishioners between youth and 70 or has that blame been passed onto someone else. Is he the performer while it is up to someone else to fill the seats? I assume that is how those mega churches work using professional promoters, but a small one should be more personal, no? Maybe times have changed and this is the result. Arena mentality on a little church budget.
     
  10. miggles

    miggles miggles

    +476
    United States
    Methodist
    Single
    i think kids today would rather text each other than do any other activity.
     
  11. timothyu

    timothyu Well-Known Member

    +1,720
    Canada
    Non-Denom
    Private
    Good point. Let them participate out of the building but on their phones. Or does the old school notion still apply where in order to make them over in your own image, you must first physically draw them in?
     
  12. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member

    +2,183
    United Kingdom
    Non-Denom
    Married
    Just how welcoming are the church members for younf people to be involved in the church?

    There are things you can do. Are there many mothers with young preschool children, if there in the area set up a mother and toddler drop in center.
    If there are schools near by try an after school club, or if you can gain access to a school take any lessons that relate to religeon, morality and ethics and id allowed organised after school or in breaks bible clubs.

    Are there other youth activities that need help, could you volunteer there.

    What about your local food bank, would they like help and information about a free mother and toddler group.

    These are all time costly schemes that cash poor families and youth groups will respond to, but the cost is that noisy undisciplined disruptive families will start coming to the church, services will have to change, old traditional hymns replaced by modern contempory songs and there will be a demand on the resources of All church staff and members to love the newcomers.
     
  13. Tod222

    Tod222 New Member

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    United States
    Christian
    Married
    Thank you all for your responses. They have been very encouraging for me to read! And they really affirm to me that It’s ok to have a small group. God could do a lot through even just one student! That’s what I have always felt, but criticism and the mentality of the church (yes, sadly ran very much like a business model) caused me and my husband to doubt. Our Pastor basically told us that we are welcome to stay in the position for as long as we want to. However, his words and actions have made us feel a little unsupported in doing so.

    Our leadership has expressed the desire and need for the younger generation to join our church, but they have refused to change anything in order to accomplish this. Being called to serve this body for this season, I have come to terms with this and have chosen to accept them for who they are and simply pray for the change that we ultimately need (not necessarily a change in style, but in heart and focus). I just wish they would offer us the same grace instead of blaming the problem on us. It’s very heavy for us to carry.

    I like the online idea... maybe we could live stream our youth group for those who are unable to make it . I will think more on this! It is definitely tough with this generation as some have said. Many youth groups in our area are actually pretty small. So I know it’s not just an issue that we are facing.

    Anyways, thank you all again! We will continue pressing forward. Please keep my youth group and our church in your prayers.
     
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  14. TraceMalin

    TraceMalin Member

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    I think kids today want Burger King (of the Jews). They are so used to having it their way. Rather than growing up as second class citizens in their homes, their needs were elevated above those of their parents. I wanted a buddy of mine from college who coached youth soccer to schedule a midnight practice just to see how many parents would begrudgingly bring the kids. He wouldn't, but I thought it would be a great lesson. The idea came to me because the lacrosse coach we had in my senior year made us practice 10pm - midnight playing indoor lacrosse on top of our 4pm - 6pm field practice. But, we were in college and adults who could get ourselves to the gym. You know the story, "Back in my day ... we had to go to church and sing hymns from 1871 and like it." Parents made us go. They probably didn't like it themselves. But, it was a worship service. I'm sure God enjoys music beyond the Victorian era in the voices of His believers today, but kids probably think even a worship service is about them.
     
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