Busy, I get it.
Conversations with parents and students keep pointing and taking us to the conclusion that students and families are super busy and perhaps even operating on an overload. So as student ministries we see this affect and impact our momentum. It’s hard to grow a church when the members show up once a month for worship. It’s hard to grow a student ministry when students show up once a month. Attendance has such a big influence on momentum, excitement is generated when students look around and see many more students at worship with them.
The reverse is true too. When students show up and many of the “regulars” are missing it deflates the energy and momentum. If a youth group goes three weeks in a row with 30 students the momentum gets going and then they hit the fourth week and have 17 its like letting the helium out of a balloon. Then you are back at square one.
In the olden days (7 to15 years ago) it wasn’t like this, at least not in our neck of the woods. I know youth pastors in the Midwest and west coast have shared with me that they have experienced the same issue.
I don’t think it is because Christian students, as a whole, have lost interest in their church’s youth group. I don’t believe that it is because they have all become apathetic, sure there are a few just like in big church. Gone are the days of Wednesday evenings and Sundays being protected for worship and church involvement, even in the Bible belt.
Simply from observations, no scientific data to back this up, I think the root cause of this is busyness. It seems to me that students today are busier than ever. This translates that parents are busier today as well.
I know, speaking as a parent, we often have something almost every night of the week. This winter we juggled wrestling practice and matches, ballet/dance class, gymnastics, homework, small group, youth group. It can be hectic. As a parent I’ll say that this is the choice we have made. My kids don’t have to do all those extra curricular events. We want them to do those things to help them be more rounded. But at what cost?
It boils down to prioritizing. What are we going to cut out of our lives or sacrifice? Meals together, family time, the ability to just relax those are just some of the few, that’s my perspective as a parent.
From a youth pastor's perspective I have noticed parents cutting out corporate worship, youth group, small group, family worship, personal quiet times, serving in church. When we start making the cuts why does it seem we cut the things that will help us and our children grow stronger and more mature spiritually?
What is most important? What are the goals for my children? These are the questions I have to ask myself as dad and as the spiritual leader and the one who disciples my children.
In our staff meeting the other day one of our elders made this statement which has been rolling through my mind and this statement was made after I started to write this post:
“God gives you all the time you need. It is up to you to manage the time He has given you.”
That’s what it boils down to. How will I steward the time God has given me and my family as a parent?
Some things to think about as you try to figure out how you are going to get the kids from school to ball practice and find time to cook supper.
What are my goals for my children?
What do I have to do vs. what do I want to do?