A strategy is a plan of action with an end in mind (Reggie Joiner. Think Orange (Colorado Springs, Colorado; David C. Cook, 2009) 113). So if you set out toward a particular objective, you anticipate an end result. In youth ministry for many years the long term end in mind were youth who graduated from High School and entered independence with a solid Christian belief and a lifestyle that reflected those Christian beliefs. But over the past 10 years through various studies and analysis, we have discovered that this desired end result is not taking place.
Typically, churches would hire a staff person who would tirelessly strive to impact young people for Christ only to discover later that most of their effort and work did not achieve the desired end. (George Barna and others have given percentages as high as 70% of young people graduating student ministries leave the church and their Christian beliefs with it.)
I have had a facebook account for some time now. More times than not, I am grieved to see so many young people who I have worked with over the years proudly displaying pictures of activities that clearly go against Christian principles and obvious biblical mandates for behavior.
So what do we do about this? For Daybreak Community Church we are going to change the strategy. Instead of allowing parents to drop off their children to the care of a â€œhired professionalâ€ we are going to attempt to equip the parents for ministering to the youth. We will enter into a relationship where we partner with them, but never allowing them to give the church the responsibility of discipleship. We will keep pushing it back to them, where biblically it belongs (see Deuteronomy 6). The church is not to be the primary place of biblical instruction, it is the home.
This is a new way of thinking and even how we structure student ministry has to change â€“ no more â€œdrop and rollâ€ but parents are encouraged to be apart of all the activities that we do as a ministry. The churchâ€™s goal is not just to partner with, and equip, but also to provide resources and ideas for this journey. In the life of a young person they may have several churches that they are apart of, but their parents will always be their parents.
We have three main events for students at Daybreak:
1) Family Group â€“ this is where we have the entire family sit down and discuss various topics (crisis, beliefs, death, etc.) and the family goes through planned activities to get them talking about these specific topics.
2) Small Group â€“ (i.e. Sunday School) this is where the students gather and decide for
themselves what they believe regarding the theme for the month, and they are able talk with their peers about the topic. Parents go to the worship service during this time.
3) Large Group â€“ we invite other churches to join us for a time of worship, a
message (sermon), games, and snacks. The students are able to interact with other Christian young people and discuss the theme for the month. Parents are encouraged to stay and we have activities planned for them as well.