“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 youth workers like to say they are not in competition with their brothers and sisters in Christ, and they are not but it sure does feel like it sometimes.
Although you are not competing against your brothers and sisters serving God down the street, you must stay competitive in three areas: programming, the A.D.D. nature of our students, and ourselves. Let’s dive in and see how we can keep up and keep out sanity and our soul in the process.
Other Youth Programs
This is where over analysis of life can kick in. In your town, like mine, there are churches that have similar programs to yours. They all have bands, great facilities, etc. When kids didn’t show up to my programs, I usually went 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)
It’s easy to look outside your own group and point fingers but you have to look at you own youth ministry and ask
- Do we have a compelling vision and mission?
- Are we organized?
- Do we handle drama well so we don’t lose kids?
Evaluating these key areas of your program can help you see where the program might be falling flat.
If you’re 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 see how much you are spending on maintenance and 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.
Leadership development is a competitive edge that does not require a big budget or lots of students.
Programming and Calendar
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.
You may not have the gifts of another youth worker in your community, but you do have a vision and a mandate. Work the game plan God has given 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.