I spent 50% of my day today driving to and from a youth forum for Southern Baptist Youth Pastors in Illinois, and so I had a lot of time to think and pray in the car by myself.
First off, I was exhausted. Be it as it may, I’ve been spoiled with the luxury of sleeping in, typically waking up around 9, in the office about 9:30. But I also stay in the office usually until 6, when my wife gets off work, or later, especially the nights we have the Cafe open or a Youth Meeting. So needless to say, getting up at 7 was rough (also, I went to bed at 3 last night). I wasn’t aware of how much of a luxury this was until I tried complaining about how early I had gotten up to my Jr. High kids tonight, and they reminded me they leave for school every day at 7:20 and wished they could sleep in until 9 like me. I told them “Guess that just means you should grow up to be a youth pastor!” Only one of them laughed.
But back to my drive, because it was nice to have that time to think outside of the office and outside of my evening ritual. The last few days its been hitting me that this awesome Jr. High Ministry we have is going to be depleted next year when our core of fully committed students which are mainly 8th graders move up to 9th grade and the Sr. High. On the one hand, its awesome because I feel like that will be the catalyst for the Sr. High growth we havent really seen yet. And ultimately, it will hopefully lead to the fulfillment of one of my goals, having more kids from the community school be in youth group in town rather than half hour away (which may come off as selfish, but I dont care, I think its better for the kids to be in community with their community, not the community a half hour away).
But this also means our Jr. High will be reloaded, and I know the 5th graders coming up next year, but what am I doing today to prepare for their transition. It’s really got me going about several different things in our ministry to families that are going to need some improvement (and im speaking about the whole churches ministry to families). Its got me thinking about my 7th graders I have now, and what I am doing to prepare them to be examples for those 5th graders next year. Its got me thinking about a lot of things.
And I know this is probably a rite of passage for new youth workers, but its the first time I have honestly thought about the future students in my ministry and how they impact what we are doing now. I mean last year, we had 1 student move up from 5th grade. Next year, I think we have over 15 currently. Last year, in our church itself, we had zero kids move from 8th grade to 9th grade (we had more in our ministry that arent in our church), where as this coming year we will also have over 10. It will be drastically different.
So quite honestly, a sense of urgency for the youth ministry has been placed on me, and I kind of like it (ok I really like it). I want to just go to the office now and get cranking on some of these ideas. I guess this is just one of those things that will hopefully get me going for the next little while.