Youth Group in a Busy World
Youth Group in a Busy World
-A dispatch from 21st Century Faith Formation Training- I often hear from youth advisors who ask "how do I get my youth to attend youth group every week? They're so busy with all their other extracurricular activities." As I'm sitting here at a training on 21st Century Faith Formation, we're talking about how churches are basically an "obsolete approach" to faithful community. They make sense when people live nearby the church building and the congregation maps onto an already defined and active community, like the old parish churches of New England. But we live in a world of many overlapping networks and groups, only some of which are geographically defined. Is it fair to expect they're anything we could do to get all of our youth attending each Sunday? So what if we took advantage of all the great new technologies at our fingertips to make youth group a blended online/in-person model? Blended classrooms are already taking off in education. What if, instead of demanding our high school students show up every week, they had a monthly meal and gathering, and the rest of the time they communicated through a Facebook group? Or a bi-monthly gathering with a Pinterest board? What if you as an advisor could spend your time forwarding fabulous articles and prayers, answering questions, talking with parents, instead of setting up a meeting? Don't we think we can trust them to stay connected if we make it easy and interesting? They might even become more connected. Here's one example, imagine the possibilities. A blended youth ministry would make it easier to participate, and allow your youth to engage with Unitarian Universalism through the social media that they're already using. And here's the added bonus: it might make the time we have together a little more special. You see this phenomenon at play with youth conferences: our youth only get to see one another from around the district every few months, so they're totally present and engaged. It would help us to shift away from taking for granted our rare and precious presence with one another towards a culture of gratitude and joy. I'm sure there are groups already working on this- who are they? How can we hear their stories and the wisdom they're gaining? Share your thoughts below!

About the Author

  • Carey McDonald is the UUA's Executive Vice President. He's a lifelong UU who has worked in nonprofit, government, political and progressive organizations.

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