Friday, July 28, 2006

Summer youth group activities - what's the value?

Trips to the amusement park, gatherings for swimming/BBQ's, movies, bowling, paint ball, "the mission trip", bike trips, etc....

These are some of the types of activities that I have tried to schedule this summer for our youth. Our regular "programming" stops over the summer and we do 3-5 special events along with a mission trip.

At times, I wonder, what impact having these events has. Now I must say I can't imagine not doing a mission trip over the summer, especially having just returned from Mexico and the cool things I saw happen there to me and the youth that went along. But the other events i struggle with.

What are your thoughts?

If a parent - do you think there is value in these gatherings or is it "just another thing." If there is value - what is it? How does that value compare to the value of a sports practice, play practice, band practice, etc? What is your hope for your child in attending these events?

If a youth worker - what is your purpose in having these events? Do you think that purpose is accomplished? Do you think your group would be negatively affected if you didn't schedule these outings?

If a student - do you see these gatherings different than other outings you go on during the summer? If so, how so? What are the factors that help you decide whether to go to a "youth group" event or not?

Do you think there is a better way for achieving what you feel God's plan is for the kids He has entrusted you with over the summer?

I'd love to hear your thoughts......(both of you!)


Lois said...

Purpose/Value of Summer Events from a parent's perspective: Keep the momentum of the "church" going year round; to continue to foster the kid friendships that have been created; to spend time with God and put aside the sports, band, etc. for a just a few minutes; to be with other adults and build trusting, caring relationships with them as well.....However, time could be well spent evaluating Wexaclty WHAT events fit the"criteria" and HOW many events are necessary.


Danielle Jones said...


Always a good question- and as you describe your summer, ours has looked exactly the same! I think that what matters is providing places for the kids to stay connected. We all know that summer (esp summer in MN) is met with a new found freedom and break from the routine of fall, winter and spring)- doing the same stuff we always do would not be refreshing enough- but doing fun stuff helps kids stay connected and lets them just hang out together- those two things- are spiritually significant over time- not right away- but it is those fun rides on the wild thing- that connect kids in a unique way and hopefully serve to give them the desire to reconnect with youth group in the much of youth minsitry is just logging time and waiting for that moment when a kid really needs to talk- because you have been there for the fun stuff- they trust you to be there for the tough stuff too!

clave said...

First of all, I appreciate your questions because they are questions I have.

Our Summer sounds like it runs similar to yours: a missio ntrip with several special events. I'm frustrated with the special events just becuase keeping track of tickets, sign-ups (Why is everyone so last minute?!?!), money, etc. It's times like this that I feel more like Julie the Cruise Director than a youth minister.

But I do think they have value:

1. The fun factor. Fun should still be a part of youth ministry (and life) and Summer events are great at that.

2. Hang time. Summer events can be a great time for leaders to spend time with students.

3. Momentum keeper. Summer events help kids keeps connected over the Summer break and can give you momentum going into the Fall.

That's a few thoughts off the top of my head. ANother would be something that isn't really talked about but is real and that is the fact that the view of youth ministry for many people is still a view from 20 years ago, which is that a good youth group is one that gives kids 'safe entertainment' options. For people with that viewpoint a youth ministry that has a couple of fun, special events is doing a good job. Those of us deeply on the inside realize that it in no way serves an accurate indicator of health, but it nevertheless can be good PR.