Tonight I felt the first of our new growing pains. We had 47 people at our youth meeting tonight, and at least 10 of those weren’t regular attenders (we had like 5 new people). The weird thing about it was that it was predominately guys. I can remember praying for guys to come to our youth group, and now we are inundated by guys.
We have also become overrun by younger youth. It is cool that they are around, but there is a limit. I have found if too many younger people come and the ratio of young to old gets too far out of balance then the older people stop coming. Also when you have a large group of older people they set the tone for how everyone else acts. When there is a strong group of juniors and seniors then their attitudes and actions rub off on the younger group. This year we have very few juniors and seniors and even fewer strong leaders. This void is being filled by middle school students, but I am worried about where we are headed.
Here is the dilemma. We now have a large contingency of young (7-9th grade) boys who are mainly interested in rough housing, playing video games, and doing things with lots of action. Most of them aren’t even interested in girls yet. So as I am designing lessons I have 2 choices. I can design things that this large group of boys will find meaningful and fun, but this will cause the rest of the people to drop out and we will become a ministry to young boys. I can also just totally ignore them and cater to the rest of the people, but this will cause the young boys to drop out, and even worse cause problems while they are there.
I am really at a crossroads here as to what type of group we are going to take forward. I have to say that the hardest thing about youth ministry for me is the turnover. Once I get a group of people who I have ministered to and developed they turn around and graduate and I am stuck trying to do it all again. Then you get one down class and suddenly you are stuck rebuilding from scratch again. Except now I’m not rebuilding from scratch, I am rebuilding from 50 people who don’t have any leaders except me and that just isn’t going to work.
There are things that can be done, but the first thing that has to happen is an honest to goodness revival. We had at least 15 people in our group who aren’t Christians. These aren’t even the people who fake it and act like they are. I have been presenting the gospel, but it is my prayer that God would come in and sweep through our place with his presence. Until these people find Christ most of what we are doing is just weird to them. Having lost people in church is a good thing, but right how they are starting to overpower the Christians. I need a way to inspire my Christian students and get them to step up and become leaders.