“*&^%$ Dance Line”
“^&*(# Marching Band”
“!@#$% Football, basketball, hockey, debate, and let’s not forget the chess team or whatever else is getting in the way of my (oops, I mean) their first priority, which centers around being at my (there I go again) their church programs. What are their parents teaching anyway?!!!”
I hear forms of this lament everywhere I go. “I just had to cancel another event because my kids are too busy.” I am told this often by those who work with kids in the church. Big church, small church, big town, little town, it doesn’t matter; the kids and their parents are overly busy with a smorgasbord of opportunities that leaves little time for one more church event. But… What if! (I personally love those words.) What if the soccer team, dance line, marching band and chess team are exactly where kids belong as ministers? What if we stopped seeing other non-church events as the competition, the enemy, and saw the relationships formed in the midst of teams, casts, and bands as the very places that real youth ministry happens? What if youth, wherever they are, and whoever they are with, are living youth ministry?
What if the congregation is primarily an equipping and supportive place for youth to be Peer Ministers? My real desired outcomes are kids who live as caring, welcoming, and affirming people every day, everywhere and in every relationship. Here is how it might work! Granted, you have to gather kids to equip them, and you will still need adults who will train and support kids. Kids participate in Peer Ministry Leadership training; they complete the training; they move into the phase of being supported and resourced by their leaders.
What if, when your kids are busily engaged with the demands of all those other programs and places, you and your adult leaders each called kids and asked questions like:
- “How is your ministry going?”
- “How have you been using your skills this week?”
- “What are the issues that you are most concerned about?”
- “What support or resources or people can I guide you to?”
- “What can I pray for you this week?”
One group tallied the number of contacts and topics their 16 Peer Ministers reported over a semester. The group reported over 2,000 times they used Peer Ministry skills! Let me emphasize this again, over 2,000 times they said they used the skills of caring and welcoming their neighbor. After sharing this, one skeptic said, “I suppose after awhile they think every conversation is a Peer Ministry conversation.”
I just smiled. “Wouldn’t that be too bad?” What if kids understood that God was part of every conversation and every relationship. “Hmmmm…,” wouldn’t I want these Peer Ministry Leaders hanging out with the sports teams, art departments, and chess teams?