Convenience or Connection: What's Our Ministry Motivation? – Church Leaders

It’s a request I see posted fairly often. It goes something like this: “Looking for a user-friendly curriculum. Video-based preferred. Something easy for volunteers, low-prep and easy-to-follow. We don’t have a huge budget so free or low-cost a must.”
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this request, but the request itself reveals some underlying concerns about how we approach children’s and youth ministry on Sunday morning or during mid-week.
I think it is worth our time to take a second and consider this situation and ask some hard questions. To pause from the push to keep Sunday school going or youth group looking like youth group “should” look. To take a deep breath and consider if begging and pleading for volunteers and seeking out the easiest, most user-friendly curriculum is doing anyone, but most especially, our kids and youth, any favors?
Is there an alternative to the now-traditional approach to Sunday mornings and mid-week that would utilize the budget (whatever it is) in an impactful way, reduce the reliance on reluctant volunteers, and increase the significance of the ministry within the congregation?
I’m not a “one shoe fits all” kind of a person, but I do think in this case, there is an answer that could be not only transformative for the kids and youth but for the entire congregation.
Bring the congregation together. Bring the family together. Bring the generations together.
How would bringing the congregation together impact the concerns above?
In his book, Youth Ministry That Last a Lifetime, Dr. Richard Ross advises approaching the youth ministry budget with a “Ministry in Thirds” mindset. One-third of the budget focused on parents and at-home discipleship, one-third of the budget focused on the whole congregation and establishing relationships between the youth and the church, and one-third of the budget on age-specific youth “Bible-drenched” activities. Why? Because these are three areas that young people who remained in church pointed to as integral to their discipleship. But how does spreading out an already minuscule budget help?
Let’s be honest—it can be a scary thing to be asked to go into a classroom and teach a bunch of kids or hang out with a group of teens. It’s uncomfortable especially in today’s age-segregated culture and it can lead churches choosing to sacrifice quality teaching, tools, and theology in order to just get someone in the room. That devalues everyone involved but can actually be quite harmful for our kids and youth. But what if we offered less scary scenarios for our kids and youth to connect with the church and more opportunities like the ones listed above that don’t rely on a volunteer base?


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