Don’t Lose This

This matters more than you think! In your quest to connect with kids don’t lose sight of the traditions they love. Here’s how to stay relevant and still build on past successes…

I almost lost this

As the Christmas holidays come to a close, there has been time spent with friends and families. In those moments there have been new traditions formed and other kept. One yearly tradition for us is when my son and I have McDonalds for breakfast on New Year’s Day. My son reminded me of this a few times in the week leading up to New Year’s Day.

What Traditions Can Do

Traditions do a number of things in our lives: create bonds between people, communicate important values, shape memories, and encourages shared experiences.

They Build Continuity and Identity

When it comes to youth ministry, it is important that we accomplish each of these at times.  We need to create bonds between students and leaders.    A sense of trust as well as continuity and consistency can be established.  A tradition gives a person something to rely on.  It is something that can remain despite the changes and chaos that occurs in life will.

In youth ministry we want to share values that are important and essential to a student’s spiritual growth. It is important that the students and leaders that we minister to have memories and experiences that they share. They help identify who we are as a ministry and can help make the youth ministry unique.  Being able to say, “Our youth ministry does this….” can give a sense of identity.

They Help Build Community

Sometimes traditions are planned and shaped and sometimes they just happen.  Even though something is thought out and planned, it is often the things that happen spontaneously that can create traditions and have a lasting impact.

The traditions that are created and kept in youth ministry can have an ability to bind the community together and establish emotional milestones that stick with individuals for a lifetime.

Traditions can help bring about a common history with students and the leaders. When traditions that are developed have a theological base and a relational component, they can be beneficial and life giving to a youth ministry.

Avoid These 3 Dangers

  1. One noteworthy danger is when traditions are based on a leader’s personal preferences.  This tradition would be owned by the leader and not the group as a whole.  If it is not shared, it may not have the sustainability to develop into a long term tradition.

2. Another danger is when traditions are rooted in “the we have always done things this way” mentality.  There may not even be consideration is whether it is something to continue.  Either of these can become unhealthy.

3. Traditions and rituals can be a significant and important part of your youth ministry. However, if the traditions that take place in our ministries are unhealthy or not shared and do not have a strong theological foundation behind them, they can become a risky, time-consuming disruption to your ministry.

Create Lasting Memories This Year

As you begin 2018, look for opportunities to create faith forming and memory making traditions in your youth ministry.

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Matt is the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has over 20 years of student ministry experience all over the country. He has 3 kids. His 2 girls are in their teen years so he has lots of opportunity to put his student ministry years to good use at home everyday. He's completing a Masters in Adolescent and Family Counseling.

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