“Where is everyone tonight?”
“I think a lot of them went over at First Church to their outreach.”
“Man, what is going on?”
Ever have this conversation before or after a youth meeting? I know we like to say we are not in competition with our brothers in Christ, and we are not. We, youth workers and programs, whether we realize it or not, ARE trying to stay competitive in 3 areas: programming, the A.D.D. nature of our students, and ourselves.
Let me tackle the first competitor: Another Youth Program
This is where my over analysis of life in general kicks in. In my town, like yours probably, there are churches that have similar programs to yours. They all have bands, great facilities, etc. When kids don’t show up to our programs, I usually go through a check list in my brain of what could draw a student somewhere else:
- Charisma of the leader (How well they speak or interact with students)
- Budget of the church (How much can they spend)
- Number of students (everyone goes there)
- Organization (how well do they plan, execute, and market their program)
Evaluating these key areas of our program can help us see where the program might be falling flat.
- If you are concerned about your message delivery, take a speech class at your local community college, read a book on it, practice in the mirror more, or take some online training.
- Look at the budget and see exactly where that money is going and whether you are spending it on maintenance or on outreach.
- You may not be able to change the number of students you have right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change the momentum. Try focusing on leadership development with your students and adult leaders. Light a fire under them to lead and take ownership of the program. Let them plan it, execute it, and reap the rewards of it.
- Make a list of some recent event that did not go so well and then tear them apart with students and other adults. Was it poorly planned or not well announced. Start tweaking how you execute. We many not have the gifts of another youth worker in our community, but we do have a vision and a mandate. Work the game plan God has give you and don’t spend a lot of time trying to mimic someone else.
Scripture tells us we are not to judge ourselves by others (2 Corinthians 10:12.) I am certainly not asking you to do that, but we can’t be naive to think that every youth worker in out community has the mentality of “we’re all in this together”, because we are not. As long as money, job security, numbers, and certain expectations are attached to our job performance, we are in a competitive race for the time and attention of students in our community. But, as I learned playing tennis, when you are playing someone better than you, you tend to try harder and seek improvement. Being competitive isn’t bad, being in competition is.
Do you feel like you are in a competition? Do you feel the pressure to compete with other churches? Is it o.k. to be competitive? Let me know, I want to hear from you. Be encouraged, God has your back no matter where you are in the pack. Part 2 coming soon.