Many youth workers do not live up to their potential in reaching students because they believe the lie that youth ministry only happens inside the church or youth group setting. But the truth is that some of your best and most effective ministry happens outside of the office, or even the church facility. And no, I am not just talking about taking your students bowling. No matter what size of church you are in there are way more students in the community than in your youth group, and therefore, amazing potential for ministry. We as youth workers need to recognize the potential of doing ministry outside of our walls and reaching students where they are. Here is why it is so important, and some ideas on how to do it.
Reaching people outside the walls of the church is not a new concept. In fact it is one that is probably modeled best by Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God, the reason for our faith, during His ministry never just chilled in the temple and hoped people would come to Him. Not at all, He was always out in the community ministering to people where they were. He connected to people in their world and from there He showed and taught them how to follow Him. Yes, I get that the context was different back then, but I am also still willing to say that if Jesus were walking the earth doing ministry today He would be doing it out in the community.
Think about it!
What plans do you have for reaching students outside of your walls? The truth is that your plan for reaching students outside of youth group is just as important as your plan for in youth group activities. Although, I am willing to bet the plan that is more developed is the one for inside youth group activities and programing. Create a plan for getting out of the office and reaching students outside of your youth group. Make a list of possible ministry opportunities(options discussed later in this article). Don’t let the idea of getting out in the community stay just an idea. Intentionally plan and think about ways to get out and reach people.
What to do
If your job is to minister to students then go where students are! The most obvious one, the place we know we will find students, the school. Find ways to be present at the local schools to interact with students and build relationships. Volunteer at school events. I just finished volunteering at “fee and photo day” at a local high school where I got to interact with every single student in the school as I stayed in one spot, they came to me. It was awesome! But schools are always looking for people to volunteer at their events, chaperone their dances and trips, take tickets at their games, or be class room aides. Get out and minister to students at the place where they spend most of their time, their schools.
Sporting events are also a huge place to connect to students. Not only to the students in the stands but also the students on the field or the court. If you make it a priority to attend the majority of the home games for a JV team do you know how much that will mean to those students!? Come on, nobody wants to go to a JV game, and honestly not very many people do go but if you make it a priority trust me you will make those students’ season. Also, just simply attending, connecting to students, and sitting with them at a Friday night basketball or football game will prove to be very valuable to your ministry.
Next, find out where students are and hang out there with them. If they like to go to the skate park, then take a cooler of Gatorade and go to the skate park. If they hang out at the taco shop or the donut shop, take a couple student with you and go to the taco, or donut shop. Find out where students are in your community or the area around your church and be present where they are.
These are just a few suggestions of things that I do or have seen done but there are plenty of ways to get out of the office and do ministry. The important thing is that you get out! Jesus showed us the importance of getting out in the community and the impact it can have. Your ministry is not just inside the walls of your church. Formulate a plan on how to reach students outside the office and go do it!