Community is the new apologetic.
People are convinced by Christ more through his body than by reasonable arguments. How do we move students from coming to youth to practicing community? This is what youth pastors say is working.
From Small Groups to Doing Life Together
Daniel says that what worked for him was being part of a church that practiced community all week long. Sharing wasn’t something that took place from 7 to 8 on Wednesday night only but there were follow up invites by group members all week long.
It feels so much more real when students contact each other and include other students not just at the group but at school and after school as well. One of my students Josh says his small group set up a private face book group and these guys encourage each other daily and plan activities on their own. They genuinely like being together and love including new members to the group!
Empower Students to Get Together
It is difficult to organize multiple little events for students every week. It’s hard enough pulling one off a week. What happens when students are encouraged and supported to do stuff together without leaders? That’s when a group starts to become a community.
I discovered this as a Scout. Every patrol leader was challenged to do one activity a week without a leader. One of the things that we did was go swimming. It didn’t take much to organize and we were all able to get there on the city bus. Going tobogganing was just as easy to plan. We genuinely liked being together and always had a good time. Students can do these things and group will grow closer.
If only one small group is experiencing love flowing among the members it’s better than nothing but there’s still a long way to go. In fact if each little group is close but the groups have nothing to do with each other you can’t really say that your youth ministry is a community.
How do we get the groups to interact? This is the next step beyond small groups toward community. When my small group can get together with your small group and all of the members get along we have taken a big step forward. This sometimes involved working on a project together. When two small groups team up for fun or for completing a service project, everyone gets to experience that sense of community.
A big leap forward is getting groups of youth to combine with adults. This is a big test of the love of God in your church. What an example this can be to a student who wondering if God is real!
Behold How They Love One Another !
History tells us that a man named Aristides was sent by the Emperor Hadrian to spy out those strange creatures known as “Christians.” Having seen them in action, Aristides returned with a mixed report. (AD 117-138) But his immortal words to the emperor have echoed down through history: “Behold! How they love one another.” Wouldn’t God love it if people were saying that about your group!