By Neil Christians
Okay folks. This is an actual conversation that I had with someone in our congregation. This individual is on staff and a great adult volunteer who really understands and cares about our students.
“Neil, I am so tired of only a few kids serving in our church. Why don’t they do service projects?”
“Umm…. They do service projects. Service projects are the majority of our monthly events. We’re always doing something for the community and here at church..”
“Yea, but they aren’t really learning service. They only come to the ‘fun’ events.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I know that they do Habitat for Humanity, but only because it’s on Spring Break or on a summer mission trip. They do the Prom event, Christmas, Easter and others service events but they only come because they’re fun, not because they want to serve.”
“Do you see this as any different from what the adults in our congregation do?”
“Well, I think that they should serve because they want to not because it’s fun. AND there are only a few of them that really give leadership to these events. Why is it that only a few of them really step up to do service events and the rest of them just … show up?!? They should all be more involved in service!”
The First Third Conversations this spring are centered on mission trips and service projects.
Are mission trips supposed to be ‘fun’? If we focus on how fun it is, even if it’s not the main focus, is this a distraction from serving others? Are we using a bait and switch on our kids planning a ‘fun’ event and then hoping that transformation happens along the way?
And what about the ratio to those who are in a leadership/planning role versus the rest of the group who just “show up”? Is this okay? I know that usually 20% of the people do 80% of the work but is this acceptable for us to settle for this ratio?
What are youth thoughts on this? How would you respond to this individual? How might this impact how you approach planning for your own summer mission trip?
Take some time and … think about it.
Neil Christians is the Director of the Family Ministry Team at Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC. He has been in paid children,youth and family ministry for 20 years and is passionate about mentoring others in a life of faith. Other passions include Harry Potter, movie clips and his favorite band Switchfoot. So, watch for references to these in his blog posts.