Youth Ministry

We are family … not.

I’ve been polling my youth anonymously about the state of our youth ministry.  (Thanks to Survey Monkey for free surveys.) I want us to do some honest evaluation over the summer as we think about the next year in youth ministry.  I’ve been here 8 and a half years and that makes it easy to get in a rut. 

The responses have been coming in ever so slowly.  They’ve been mostly positive in a healthy way.  Translation: not overly gussy where I’m skeptical that they are trying not to make me feel bad but practical and balanced. I’m pretty pleased with the maturity of their responses and not surprised by most of them.  It seems that we have struck the rigth balance on activities and events, that we have caring adults, and that the kids feel like they grow from the constant service activities we do.

There is one very clear theme, however, through all of the survey responses:  we are not family.  Here are some of the comments to the open-ended question – "The thing that frustrates or disappoints me most about our youth ministry is . . ."

  • When someone new comes were not as welcoming as we should be as youth
  • the cliques..they need to mix. starting in middle school…it all starts there.
  • how our youth group isnt open to each. we are to clicky. groups dont talk with other groups and sometimes i feel im being judged.
  • too clique-y, not very accepting of new people

Ouch, huh? The only good thing about this is that I have a real clear focus for our youth group this next year.

I’d love to hear from some of you what suggestions you have to work through this to being a loving family.  Some of you are youth ministers, all of you are or were teenagers at some point in your life.  What suggestions to you have to fight cliques?  What ideas have you seen to help make a larger youth group family? It is tougher when it is larger (we average 45 – 55 youth 7 – 12 grade) but not impossible!

In case you are curious and want to do your own survey, here are the 10 questions I sent out on this first survey.  More will come as I look for more detailed feedback.

  1. Gender
  2. Grade in School
  3. Please indicate the activities that you attend on a regular basis. (I listed our regular weeky activities.)
  4. Please indicate which events you participated in this past year. (I listed our yearly big events like trips and retreats, etc.)
  5. How pleased are you with the following ministries this past year? (There was a ranking scale from "I hate it" to "I love it" for every weekly activity and event.
  6. In my opinion, our activities are: (four options from "interesting and fun" to "boring and dull.")
  7. In my opinion, we: (four option from "need to be more serious about our faith", "need to reach out more to unbelieving students", "the right balance between fun and serious," "need to lighten up and have more fun."
  8. I keep coming to our youth group for the following reasons (they could check as many as they wanted from parents, to events, to friends, to adults I like.)
  9. The thing I love most about our youth ministry is …
  10. The thing that frustrates or disappoints me most about our youth ministry is . . .

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