Over a month ago I posted some thoughts on a new ministry “philosophy” I had been discovering and attempting. I discussed why I thought the change was necessary and what I thought it would look like moving forward. Let me take a couple of paragraphs and update those interested on how it’s all been rolling out. (If you haven’t read the original post go do that now.)
No More Vidja Games (Thanks Zac)
I mentioned in the original post that we removed our game room and replaced it with a 10 couch lounge area. Along with that we adjusting lighting to a dimmer, more subdued feeling, and the music playlist in our lobby is a lot more relaxed. For example, less Daft Punk and Family Force Five and more Jon Foreman or Teagan and Sara. Anyway, we just went for an overall more relaxed and relational feel. We beefed up our cafe a bit providing more options and some coffee choices.
How did it go you ask? Well, see for yourself:
I see students standing around talking. That’s right, connection is happening. Not only are they all communicating with each other, they are coming early to do it. Our services start at 6:30 and we’ll have a half full lobby by 6o’clock. It’s pretty amazing how simple it was: provide an atmosphere conducive to connection and watch them connect. We were trying to breed relationships and IT WORKED! We’re pretty excited about that.
Split up worship service.
We didn’t stop in our lobby. We also split up our worship service to provide a stronger focus/separation on praise and worship. We begin the service with two faster “praise” songs right after the countdown, then lead into announcements and “huddle groups” (more about those in a bit) and then we transition with a call to worship and three or so more songs of the slower, more reverent variety.
This has been an interesting change but a good one. Our initial goal was to increase the participation during the praise section of service and see students get involved right away instead of wait until the slow songs to pay attention. This new discipline is definitely developing, maybe a bit slowly, but developing none the less. The surprise we got out of it was the increased excitement about our Huddle Group time. This is a time during the service when we take the 100 or so students and break them by grade into groups of 20 or less. This makes the big small in order to increase opportunity for connection, focus on prayer, and communication of more news and announcement. We also take attendance and offering during our Huddle Groups. Because of the increased involvement and excitement about the Huddle Groups we have increased the time from five minutes to seven. This allows more connection and deeper prayer time when necessary.
We didn’t expect the new service format to help with the Huddle Groups but it sure has and we’re excited about it.
Hindsight is 20/20
Looking back a couple years I wonder were our ministry would be if we had made these changes then. I obviously will never know but I can definitely see where we’re going. The increased connection and focus on relationships has stirred something in all of us, leaders, staff, and students alike. We’ve begun an attempt to increase our community outreach as a ministry by helping some organizations in our town that feed those in need. We’re also doing a “big bill night” next week where students bring the largest bill (money) they can get their hands on to put in the offering. All of that nights offering is going to Convoy of Hope to assist with food distribution in Japan.
Our students are excited about this and hungry to not only experience God but BE THE CHURCH to their community. Now THAT is counter cultural youth ministry.
Author: Michael Prince
Michael Prince co-authored “What’s in Your Pocket? A parent’s guide to protecting your children online.” with his wife Melinda. They have four kids and live in an RV anywhere in the USA they see the need for an internet safety expert. Michael is leading the conversation in the American Church about family online security. He and Melinda founded BecauseFamily, a ministry that exists to inspire and equip parents to be the first influence in the lives of their children, in 2013. Michael is also a geek and loves Star Wars, Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and strategy board games.