The church wouldn’t have funding problems if I had a dollar for every time I’ve had a conversation that begins a little something like this: “We are a really small church, we just don’t have enough people to have a youth group. … Then we lose them to XYZ Church down the road.”
I listen patiently to the tale of struggle and loss – especially when that shiny, large mega church down the road is one that is more theologically conservative than the more progressive United Church of Christ churches I typically visit.
I calmly reassure the emotional parent or grandparent that their small church actually has a HUGE advantage – they KNOW all their young people. They can be in regular relationships with them. They can go to soccer games and band concerts. They can simply be there to listen and care for them as they grow into the adults God has created them to be.
Thirty years of research has shown that young people with significant adult relationships in the church are far more likely to remain faithful than those who don’t. So, whatever the size of your church, building relationships between faithful adults and young people should be the top order of business.
The Iowa and Minnesota conferences of the UCC, along with Vibrant Faith Ministries and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, have partnered to offer Certification School in Progressive Christian Youth Ministry, a training program that helps church leaders apply these and other best practices for immediate impact in their church.
Register NOW for our next group that will meet for intensive training May 19-24, 2013 with a follow-up retreat Nov. 8-10, 2013. See you there whether you are a lay leader, paid staff or a pastor looking to transform your ministry with children, youth and families.
Nicole Havelka, Associate Conference Minister