Over the past year, our church has been going through a strategic management process. Basically, we’re on a quest to find out who we are, and what we are about. More on that in a moment.
Last night, I got to hang out with three of our 7th grade boys, my son and two others. We went to Red Robin to get our grub on, and laughed and talked about our middle school program: what they liked and didn’t like, what they thought about out adults, those kinds of things. I also asked, “What do you think Wednesday nights are about?” To the young man, they all said that it was a time of more learning about the Bible. Which was right and wrong. Our primary focus on Wednesday nights is outreach, teaching kids some of the basics about the teachings of Jesus, and our primary audience is kids not plugged in to a church. In the past, each of them have told me that they feel bored, out of place. Last night, I told them that I was ok with them being bored to a point. Why? Our vision for Wednesday night is not about the person that’s grown up in the church. That’s why we meet on Sunday mornings. And, some of our Wednesday night kids would be bored to tears as we explore deeper concepts of theology. Now, they are welcome to come, but the concepts and teaching style is different. Rather than try to teach to multiple maturity levels at one time, we have different events. Right or wrong, it’s what we do. Ultimately, it’s value-driven. And because of this, I have something to measure.
Our student ministry has two values: we seek to be intentionally Jesus-oriented, and intentionally relationship-oriented. Every thing that we will do revolves around one, in not both, of those values. What does this look like, practically?
Intentionally Jesus-Oriented: We try to talk about Jesus as much as possible. When talking about the Old Testament, we talk about the things that point to Jesus. Our retreats and trips? They’re focused on Jesus. Not just what he said, but what he did.
Intentionally Relationship-Oriented: Our students may never remember a single message or talk. What what they will leave here with is the knowledge that there are adults that care about them. We have a great group of adults. I am working on getting to know them better. That’s why I’ve asked them over the past few years to attend SYMC with me. It’s why we meet semi-regularly. Lastly, I want to build relationships with parents. This is the reason that we’ve asked them to be a part of our fundraising. This is why we’ve asked them to come to our church before trips. These parents need to be in relationship with one another, whether they are Christians or not. In fact, the parents of our “community kids” MUST be in relationship with our church parents if we expect them to make the leap to Sunday mornings. Why else would they come? They want to know that they’d be welcome. They want to know that they’d fit in. The best way to do that is to have a connecting point. That connecting point, if we all understand the values and vision, is those meetings.
Values and vision. They set organizations apart from other organizations. They prevent knee-jerk reactions. They give you a “reason” for doing what you do. And, without them, we are simply aimless and wandering.