Dear Deacons & Church members,
On Friday evening I had a meeting at my house with Jeremiah. We discussed the direction of the student ministry at our church. Although we did not cover every portion of the youth ministry at this present stage, I did want to show strong support for the work of Jeremiah and our great volunteers.
My heart is to see many young people grow in a relationship with Jesus Christ and become active participants in our church. For this to happen, I believe that we need to see growth in two areas: First, the students attending St. Helena need to become more integrated in the life of our church and Second, more students need to begin attending St. Helena as well.
Following are the ways we want to accomplish these goals. Jeremiah and I are very excited about this, but I would like to hear your thoughts also. If you approve of these plans, Jeremiah and I will immediately begin recruiting the necessary leaders needed to have success.
Our first goal is that the students of St. Helena need to become more integrated in the life of our church. Currently, the majority of the time our students are involved in other areas of the church during every service we have: Sunday School, Morning Worship, Evening Worship and Wednesday Night Church. I believe that if we do not get our students involved in the greater life of St. Helena Baptist Church, they will leave the church when they graduate from the youth group, if not earlier. In fact, we have already seen evidence of this.
My first step to avoiding this outcome is to get our students more directly involved in the life of our church, especially on Sunday mornings. Not only do I believe that this helps our youth belong to the greater church beyond merely the youth group, but it also helps our church service look fuller and younger by retaining the youth and their adult leaders, most of which are young adults.
But if I am going to ask our students to attend our Sunday morning worship service, I believe that I must encourage them to be participants involved in the service, not merely watchers. I came up with multiple “tracks” in which our students could help and grow as disciples. They would serve along with the adult leadership in each of these tracks, receiving training on Wednesday evenings and perhaps at other times as needed. Some of our students are already serving in some of these ways but only periodically. I would like to see all of our students helping on a regular basis.
I have established five different tracks where I would like to see students ten and older help serve our church: Audio/Visual, Outreach, Service, Teaching or Worship. They can prepare for these ministries on Wednesday nights at 6:30 to 7:00, the same time as the adult choir.
The Audio/Visual Team will learn how to properly run and maintain the Sound and Media systems in the Sanctuary and the Fellowship Hall. They will work with the Audio/Visual leadership, the pastor and the worship leadership to prepare for the Sunday morning worship service. They will help make sure the Sound and Media are consistently working each week and that we have words on the screen for songs not from the hymnal. They will also work with the pastor and worship team to help choose, edit and upload any videos, illustrations or sermon notes. This team is great for those who are creative, love computers or prefer working from the back.
The Outreach Team will encourage visitors to our church. They can welcome those arriving, thank newcomers for attending as they exit, hand out the Bibles, write letters and make visits as appropriate, especially to new youth and children. This team is great for those who are naturally outgoing or have a desire to see people come to Jesus in salvation.
The Service Team will help the service leadership groups in our church. This team may be the most practical of all the teams, because those serving here could learn practical skills by working with the facility’s committee, the kitchen, the library, the ushers, the mission’s teams and serving the widows in our church. This team is great for those who like seeing the results of their work, are good with their hands or want to learn new skills.
The Teaching Team will coordinate with the pastor helping him as he prepares for the Sunday morning message. Not only will they learn how to prepare a teaching series and evaluate it, but they will also work with him providing insights for future messages. They can also participate in reading Scripture passages during the Sunday morning services and possibly help fill-in for Sunday school teachers too. This team is great for those who love to teach, enjoy studying or have organizational skills.
The Worship Team will come alongside young adult leadership to prepare songs or skits for the Sunday morning service. This team will also work in harmony with the adult worship leaders and the pastor as they come together to prepare the order of service for the coming weeks. This team is great for singers, musicians, actors and others who enjoy public performance.
Our second goal is to have more students attending our church. The first service most youth will experience will likely be either the Sunday morning worship service or the Wednesday night youth service. I have already referenced some ways I want to begin including our younger people in the Sunday morning service, but I believe that we also need to make our Wednesday evening services a time in the week our youth want to attend and would hate to miss. So if you are asked to help with our Wednesday night student ministry, I encourage you to accept the call.
Yet, even if we include our students and young adults more effectively in our Sunday morning worship service, we still need to compel people to come into the kingdom, as Jesus said. Jeremiah and I also talked about an outreach day at the church for our community. I believe that if we are going to do something, we should do it to the best of our ability, as unto God, and not unto man, so if we are going to have an outreach day at the church, let’s make it one fantastic blow-out.
I am calling my idea “The First Annual Battle of the Ages.” It will be fun and light-hearted, but it will also be a competition. We will have the kids, teens and young adults (6-29) face off against the older counterparts in a series of physical, intellectual, musical, artistic and cooking events. We will invite three judges who are not connected to our church nor who go to church (think potential members) to preside over events that require judging (singing, art and cooking events).
To make certain that we have enough food that day, we will have three cooking events: Best Appetizer, Chili Cook-off and Dessert Challenge. Each category can have a prize for first and second place. This should provide us with enough food, a nice variety of appetizers and desserts and also the best recipes everyone has.
Throughout the day, we will hold various events, see below for possibilities. Many of these events will be scheduled simultaneously, leaving no opportunity for only one person to dominate all the events. Also, many of the events require a different skill set to make it balanced so that both young and old have the possibility of success.
- Outdoor Twister (paint the spots on the ground)
- Matching Game (Turn over the cards)
- Bean Bag Toss (needed are five/six bean bags and a ladder – label stairs of the ladder as points)
- Washer Toss
- Soccer Kick (for accuracy or distance)
- Baseball/Football Throw (Cut targets into and hang an old bedsheet/tablecloth)
- Indoor bowling with 2/3 liter soda bottles (bring extra in case any burst)
- Religious artwork competition (to be displayed at the church after)
- Balloon dart board
- Timed checkers
- Timed chess
- DIY mini golf course (9 hole)
- Ladder ball
- Bobbing for donuts (hang the donuts off a tree branch)
- Knock over the cans game (6 empty and cleaned cans on a table and three bean bags)
- Buckets at 7 different distances and ping pong balls
- Connect 4
- Obstacle course finale using many of the events (relay style)
- Name that tune
- Three-legged race
We will also have games and activities for our little children. We can have a bouncy castle, slip-n-slides, face painting, water balloon toss, DIY Plinko, coloring book competition, pinata, music and dancing. Any adults from our church not wanting to participate in the events of the day would be very helpful in this area.
We will have sign-up (think a list for our outreach team) for everyone in attendance. To receive prizes for winning competitions, they will need to sign-in. This is also for safety keeping parents and small children connected.
I believe this can be a great day of fun for our church, but I also believe that this can be an awesome opportunity for an outreach to our community. I do not plan on preaching or teaching at this event, but I plan on shamelessly encouraging everyone to attend our church the following morning. I also think we should have a very nice hand-out packet for all guests with little goodies and information about our church. To help encourage them to keep the gift bag, we can put a ticket in each bag after they sign-in for door prizes. I also will tell everyone about the upcoming events we are having at the church that they will not want to miss. This day can be a start of things our church can do to be more visible in the community. Not all of our events will be for fellowship and outreach, others can focus on other community needs: spiritual, financial, health …
We will need real prizes to give to the winners (prizes enjoyed by kids or adults), but often local businesses are very helpful sponsoring events like this.
Please let me know what you think about these two ideas.