Something I feel I have come back to several times on here is the idea of mile markers, or benchmarks, that are able to show the progression of a student in their Spiritual Growth. One thing of note that I feel is important is that different kids will have different mile markers. For a student who has grown up in church their whole life, then reading their bible every day may not signify quite the same spiritual growth as a kid who had never set foot in church until their sophomore year of high school.
So while different individual students are located at different mile markers, the overall Youth Ministry is set up on 5 levels of mile markers, and one of the way we attempt to move kids from marker to marker is through different purposeful events, and this is really somewhat just an extension of Greg Stier’s Dare2share and moving kids from apathetic to Passionate. But in our Youth Ministry it plays itself out in the purpose behind our events
The first level of event is really just to get kids coming, hence the name. These events will be primarily relationship building, whether its a night of just games the first sunday of every month, a lock-in, etc., the primary purpose here isn’t to win souls, but to show kids that they can have a good time with Christians.
The second level of events is a bit more evangelistic, at some point we want to shut it down and let kids know that yeah we want to have a good time, but we also want them to know we aren’t just a hang out place, to let them know, for instance, there is a reason I work with a bunch of teens but am not a teacher, and to share the gospel with them. ( These aren’t bait and switch events, its never like “Hey come for free pizza! Lock the doors! Your going to hell unless you repent!”)
The third level of event is one that focuses on the Beginning stages of Discipleship. The first two levels, and really this one a bit as well, are open to everyone, our hope is that everyone will feel welcome and comfortable coming to them. But beginning in level three, there is a bit more of a “Hey, we want you to come to this, but be ready to go deeper” Where as the first two are pretty Bible Light, level three starts getting more into the Bible, and again, is the beginning stage of discipleship.
Level four is where students are very committed to the Bible, the youth ministry, their peers, etc. Level’s 3 and 4 could really be combined, and in our bench marks they are closely related. But Level 4 is going to focus on Spiritual Maturity Development. Simply reading the bible and knowing about God isn’t going to cut it at these events, your going to have to show you understand it. Again, levels 1-3 are really open to everyone, but someone can’t just jump into level 4 from nowhere, they have to be invited by an adult leader, not a student, to these events.
Level 5 events are where the students are showing spiritual maturity reproduction, such as a mission trip/service project. The difficulty is that though this one is at the bottom of the funnel, and level 4 seems like a “closed off” event, level 5 is still open to just about anyone.
So again, these are the 5 levels of focuses behind an event, and help us achieve the bench marks we want to see students passing before graduation in terms of spiritual growth.