When and Where to Meet
group magazine: July-August, 1995
From: July/August 1995 Group Magazine
Keywords: Meetings Scheduling Location
When and Where to Meet
We talk to youth leaders across the country to discover when their groups meet, where they meet, and why
by Cindy Hansen and Bob Latchaw
So you think your ministry is on track because you've got committed leaders, well-planned meetings, and support from church members? Wait just a minute...conflicts over scheduling and facilities can derail your "best-laid plans" faster than you can say, "Where is everybody?"
We interviewed youth leaders around the country to gather the best ideas about when and where to meet. We discovered two things: (1) Scheduling and facility conflicts are a universal headache for youth leaders, and (2) There are many creative, flexible solutions to the problem. To wit...
#1-Offer One Youth Activities Night
Dave Seely (associate minister in Louisville, Kentucky) says the best way he's found to meet busy kids' needs is to offer them one night that's filled with activities, rather than scheduling various activities throughout the week.
When they meet: Dave's middle school and high school groups meet on Sundays with this schedule:
4 p.m.-High school handbell choir/middle school choir
5 p.m.-High school choir/middle school handbell choir
6:30 to 8 p.m.-Youth groups
Where they meet: Dave's church has a youth "loft." It's a separate activities building with a gym.
Dave's basis for youth ministry is, "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52). The group's activities address "wisdom" through meeting topics, "stature" through recreation, "favor with God" through worship, and "favor with man" through service.
#2-Vary the Times and the Days You Meet
Paul Mast Hewitt (part-time youth worker in Wheaton, Illinois) took a course at Group's Kidstitute event on "Too-Busy Kids." He says, "I learned that instead of thinking week to week, we need to think in a modular mode. We need to think in terms of a three-week series on one topic instead of weekly meetings. That way kids won't feel like they miss out if they can't come to youth group on a regular basis."
When they meet: Sunday nights from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for the kids who can come. They offer other activities at a variety of times.
Where they meet: Three out of four weeks, they meet at the church. Once a month, they meet at a community center and use the gym.
Paul says, "Don't expect everybody to come to everything, and try to vary the times and the days you offer activities. Otherwise you'll miss kids who might have to work that night, or study, or have school commitments."
#3-Meet at Times When You Can Reach the Most Kids
Kevin Greer (full-time youth minister in Longmont, Colorado) works with high school youth in a large, fast-growing church.
When they meet: Kevin says, "We used to meet Sunday evenings, but it wasn't working." When youth group was on Sunday evenings, a lot of the kids who'd attend had already been to church that morning. Now they're switching to Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. to reach more kids.
Where they meet: Right now Kevin's group meets in church classrooms, but they're in the process of building a new addition that will have a youth room and a gym.
Kevin says he first had to prove there was a need for a gymnasium before his church began the building project. For two years he worked with schools and the YMCA to organize youth basketball and volleyball leagues. He also organized after-school programs called "Kids Clubs." The programs and leagues were popular and well-attended. They proved there was a need, and now the gym is well on its way to being completed.
#4-Organize Small Groups and Meet in Homes
Mark Eiken (youth and discipleship minister in Milpitas, California) says kids who attend his church come from three nearby cities. To meet the travel needs of busy kids, he's organized small groups that meet in each city.
When they meet: Small groups meet on Tuesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Where they meet: The groups meet in kids' or adult leaders' homes. And they all come together at the church once a month for a large group Sunday evening worship.
Mark says, "Kids seem to be so busy. I encourage them to keep one night a week clear for their small group. The adult small group leaders are committed to calling their young people one time a week. These calls help kids remember to come."
#5-Choose a Time and Place Kids Will Enjoy "Hanging Out"
The Rev. Carlos Velez (associate pastor in Long Island City, New York) works with kids in a large, inner city church.
When they meet: Fridays seem to be the best night to meet since kids are looking for a place to "hang out." They meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Carlos says, "Many kids off the streets may come to church on Friday nights but not come on Sundays. So on Fridays, we focus on social activities and evangelism, with some teaching. On Sundays, we focus on teaching, with some social activities and evangelism."
Where they meet: Carlos' group meets in an 80-year-old school building. On Friday evenings, they use the entire building. So they alternate between meeting in classrooms and a cafeteria/fellowship hall.
Carlos says, "We make a big mistake because we put so much into our meetings. We think our meetings will do everything for the young people. But our meetings won't do the changing. A ministry must be built on Christ, then relationships."
#6-The "When and Where" Could Be a Phone Call
Suzann Petersen (part-time youth worker in Caro, Michigan) says, "I try to call each young person on a regular basis so kids know they have a friend." Suzann makes phone calls to all kids-active as well as inactive. She also advocates a variety of activities. That way, she reaches all of the kids some of the time.
When they meet: Suzann's group meets Sundays from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Where they meet: They meet in their church's fellowship hall or in their youth room, which has comfortable chairs, ping-pong, and pool tables. Their current facility doesn't have a gymnasium. Suzann works around that minor problem by entering some group members in an annual community basketball marathon. "This is the fourth year we've participated in this event. It meets the needs of a certain number of kids. They might not come to other activities, but they come to this each year."
Cindy Hansen is a youth director in Colorado, and Bob Latchaw is a high school teacher in Colorado.