As you think about this past fall and the coming winter, pause for a moment. Stop thinking about your calendar (and what you may or may not be able to put on that calendar). Instead, think about the kids you miss most.
Who were you planning to take to camp? Who loves to laugh with you? Who asks great questions when you open the Bible? Whose circumstances have broken your heart?
Start by thinking about those kids. The friends God has put in your life and called you to serve.
Now think about what it could look like to live life and do ministry with those kids again.
Young Life exists to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. Our mission isn’t club or camp – those are tools we use to fulfill our purpose. What tools are available for you to fulfill our mission right now with that group of kids you miss? You can continue to build relationships and talk about Jesus.
Ask others on your team to do the same. Who do they miss? If each leader on your team spent the next few months investing in their own small group of kids, you could still impact so many. Imagine the long-term dividends when you invest in their lives, both for kids and their school.
Let’s think small to get big!
Last spring, many of us jumped into emergency mode, doing the best we could to replicate “normal” ministry tools in a virtual setting. As this season of uncertainty continues into the winter – and looks vastly different from country to country, state to state, and even city to city – it’s time to remind ourselves of our mission, take stock of what we can do, and create a new rhythm of ministry.
What if God gave you this time to reset, recalibrate, and rediscover true north? What would you do? Here are some principles to guide you as you answer that question:
Focus on the mission.
Young Life exists to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. Our mission isn’t club or camp – those are tools that we use to fulfill our purpose. What tools are available for you to fulfill our mission right now? You can still build relationships with kids and have conversations about Jesus.
Invest in the few.
Give each leader a specific group of kids to focus on. At each school, assign leaders to a gender and grade of kids. A team of four leaders could go deep with 40 kids. Spend next semester casting vision, giving ownership and doing contact work with each small group. Imagine the long-term dividends in their lives and in that school and community.
Pour into leaders.
Meet with them regularly, one-on-one and in small groups. Study the Bible together. Read and discuss the Master Plan of Evangelism or another book. Create a culture of community as your team grows together in Christ and leadership.
Don’t worry about labels.
Spending time with a small group of kids this fall may look like a cross between club, Campaigners and contact work. That’s okay. Relational ministry in any form is what is most important.
Plant a contact work flag.
We still want to go where kids are. If you can’t go to schools or school events, you can likely find somewhere that kids will be. Maybe it’s the Starbucks or local park closest to the school. Once you find it, make sure leaders are there regularly.
Be creative with contact work.
Spend more energy thinking creatively about contact work than club. Let’s get excited about what we can do, rather than getting stuck in what we can’t do. No matter our circumstances, we can still find ways to build relationships with kids. And now, maybe more than ever, kids need us to show up for them.