Rotational youth programs…is there a better option?

Life here in the Prairies is good. We’ve had very little snow and the temp has stayed in the low teens (50º F)—nice for early November.  The geese are heading south, I guess it is their way of letting us know that the nice weather is not going to last.

One thing I’ve been noticing is that many youth groups run a ‘rotational ‘ style of youth group program. One week is one activity or event and another week is completely different. For example, on the first week of the month you may have a Bible study. On the next week you may have a games night, the week after that is evangelistic and the last week is a night committed to service and helping the community and so on.

I want to think through this program just a bit—is it a good thing to do? A helpful pattern?

I’m not sure where this style of thinking came from. Is it designed to enable youth to pick and choose those events that they want to go to? (Sort of a youth group program smorgasbord.) Or is it simply because we are all so busy these days that we can’t run a program that is a little more intensive that covers all those bases?

Do other ministries in the church do it? For example, do the adults run four services a month each with a different purpose and program? If they don’t, why do we?

My guess is the reason is fairy straightforward, we simply don’t know how to run a program that is enjoyable, evangelistic and builds at the same time. One of my friends in Australia uses a very helpful image: he reminds us of the cereal commercial that boasts “this cereal is healthy and tastes good.”[1] Isn’t this what we want in a cereal? It is also what we want in a program. We want to run a simple, ‘doable’ program that seeks to build, to reach, to serve (‘healthy’),  and to be enjoyable (‘tastes good’).  This must be our aim.

The bottom line is this: when we build up a group of youth to love Jesus and take each other (and this world) seriously, they will seek to build each other, reach out to their friends, and do good works for the community. Sure, have an evangelistic event, but don’t regularly give up one of your nights to do it, make each night a night that nonbelievers can come to. Regular prayer, Bible study and Christian fellowship is simply too important for the health of a young person. Should you go out and do works of service for the poor and needy? Of course, make it a regular and additional part of your program. Ask the youth to give up gaming for a night, or social sports, or homework. This is what it means, in part, to walk the narrow road.


[1] A shout out to Rev. Jodie McNeil. Thanks Jodes!

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2 Responses to Rotational youth programs…is there a better option?

  1. mattarino says:

    Hi Ken,
    Great article. I couldn’t agree more. To get there, we train our people to try to get as many of the 2 P’s and 5 S’s as possible:
    Play
    Pray
    Sing
    Serve
    Share
    Scripture
    Study

    I have to ask, is the American version of that expression, “Taste’s great, less filling”?

  2. mattarino says:

    I mean “in each meeting.”

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