Keep Up But Don't Compete
LISTEN TO THIS ARTICLE:
Hitch: “What is the objective?”
Albert: Speaks timidly, “To shock and awe.”
Hitch: “That was shockingly awful! What is the objective?!”
Albert: Louder and with more feeling, “To shock and awe!”
Sometimes we need a life coach as good as Hitch to remind us of the objective. So when it comes to your ministry, what’s the objective around planning your events, regular programs, or hangouts? Do you know your ministry's objective? Do you even have an objective? Vision and direction are incredibly important to ministries, especially those dependent on volunteers. But I want you to consider the objective you have in mind when you plan your activities each week – your flow, your lessons, and everything in between.
We all know that our students’ attention in this world of Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Netflix, Disney+, Paramount+, Amazon Prime, TikTok, and BeReal (that’s not even half of them out there) is being pulled and captured from every direction all the time. I think ministries can easily fall into the trap of trying to compete or to be bigger and better, but I want to propose a different idea – “Keep up but don’t compete.” Keep up to date with what the students are “into these days,” but if you try to compete with the world out there, you will wear yourself out. They are massive industries hiring hundreds of people to pull off what they pull off! You CAN’T compete, so don’t try. Instead, put your efforts into relationships and consistency. In fact, here is my new Hitch mantra.
“What is the objective?”
“Relationships and consistency.”
“WHAT is the objective?!”
“Relationships and consistency!”
You get the point. Trust me, it’s not as boring as you think. And it still leaves an incredible amount of freedom and creativity in planning while also offering something the world doesn’t.
Ah, TikTok, the moment I think I have finally started to understand the shuffle, there’s a new dance I’ve never heard of. I laughingly share the funniest TikTok I saw the other day, only to have students smile politely and nod, “yeah, that’s an old one.”… Ugh, how do you keep up? Trends are changing incredibly fast. This isn’t news to anyone. So instead of trying to compete, offer the opposite, consistency. So what do I mean by this exactly? Have the same framework every week. That’s it. It's that simple! And in that framework, go wild!
Back in the day (yep, we have to admit the 90s were 30 years ago), people were looking for something new and exciting to escape life. That’s not the case anymore. So what are they looking for? Consistency. It’s not old school or boring. It’s safe. Youth group can be an intimate and intimidating place, so students need to feel safe. To do that, they need to know what to expect. This also helps them invite friends because they know what they are getting them into.
*This doesn’t mean you can’t plan those epic, extra-special nights. Just make sure you announce it as a special event.
I’m shocked at the activities my mentee agrees to.
“Hey, wanna come over Saturday morning and help me pull weeds?”
I’m sorry, what?! I assure you this is not an attempt to just get free labor. Instead, I want to invite my students into my life in various aspects. Some things are meant to challenge them, some to distract them, some for fun, some for discipline, but all for discipleship. Now, this only works if there is an intentional relationship included. If I put in my headphones on Saturday and just pull weeds, then the student won’t want to come back. It’s not about the activity; it's about how you use the activity to include the student. Does that mean it takes a little longer and tests your patience? Absolutely. But doesn’t it also mean that the student felt special because they got your intentional, undivided attention?
The second part of building relationships is diving into their world. Do they play a sport? An instrument? Dance? Paint? Karate? Whatever they do, show up! Go to their game, concert, performance, belt testing, etc. Just show up. Ask first, then follow through. Don’t you dare say you will try to make it if you don’t think you can or might forget. They don’t need more of that. Plus, when you come to these things, it’s an AMAZING opportunity to connect with the parents!
So who comes to mind? Who can you invite over to help with yard work? (I don’t recommend this as a first hang out, try a walk first). Whose play is coming up soon? Who has a concert this month? Whose parents do you want to get to know better?
Let me leave you with these encouraging verses:
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2-3
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- Take an honest look at your ministry. Are you competing? Do you constantly change the lighting, stage setup, or the flow of the night to try to be bigger and better?
- How can you provide your students with a safe, consistent environment? How can you create intentional relationships with them?
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