Plans (Part Two: The Playbook)

Welcome back bloggers!
As we left at the last post, we realized that we had significant goals for our kids when it came to what we would like to see in them when they graduated.  The goals ranged in variety from a willingness to pray out loud to an absence of jail time, and everything in between. The question that naturally followed was if we knew where we wanted to go, how are we going to go about getting there?
("A Garmin costs how much?")   
And so Ed and I put our heads together over a couple of hot dogs and quite a few laps of Mario Kart and came up with four main focuses for next year. Now, of course I'm taking advantage of you the blog readers, as I assume you fall into one of three categories. You are either A) a fellow youth worker, whose input I would value tremendously, B) a friend or family member of mine who doesn't work in the church, but has a fair amount of opinions as to how a church should work, thus making your input also highly valued, or C) one of the youth from my youth group, whose input would be valued above all. So no matter what group you find yourself in, would you be a dear and weigh in on what I'm cookin up here?
(Oh boy)
Focus One: Small Groups
This idea got traction at the National Youth Workers Convention this year I think, as everyone seemed to be reacting to the mega-church model that has over-run the Christian culture. It seemed as though everybody was talking about how to make bigger groups seem smaller, and that really resonated with us. 
We have two things working (either for or against us, depending on your perspective): a really healthy 5th and 6th grade program, and a very small amount of seniors. This means that we are super bottom loaded. The first year we will graduate any significant number of seniors will be when this year's freshmen graduate (2012). Each year from now till then, our 5th and 6th will give us roughly 15-20 students a year. We currently have about 35-40 on an average Wednesday night. Assuming a ton of stuff that we seem to think will happen, that means that by 2012 our youth group will contain anywhere between 100-120 kids. Can you say mosh pit?
So we want to be intentional about getting the kids involved in small groups. This of course doesn't happen by saying "Hey kids, get into small groups". We'd really like for them to know how to make their own small groups, for that day when they will be off in college. We're still planning that out, including some heavy reading on my part. Hopefully we'll have some answers by June or July, so we can start recruiting more leaders. 
Focus Two: Testamonies
Let's face it, we as Presbyterians (if not all protestant faiths) have the hardest time when it comes to sharing our faith. Personally I think we hide behind the "If I act nice enough and am very different from the rest of the world, people will assume I love Jesus" battle plan a bit too much.
("Can I introduce you to my friend Jesus?")
So we want to get kids in the habit of sharing their faith. Not in the same old traditional ways either, as if sharing your faith doesn't count if you're not doing it with a megaphone and some handouts. We're hoping to bring in some special guests to share their faith, and talk about how they view sharing their faith. Then we're hoping to create some space to share our faith in house a little bit to get us geared up to share our faith on the outside world. Again, there are people who think this is a horrible prospect, but our hope is to show them that sharing testamonies is a terrific joy, and less like a root-canal.
Focus Three: Mission
This one has been well in the works for a while, we just want to build on it a bit more and make it a bit stronger. Ed's mission trip sold out a week before the deadline. Are you kidding? That never happens! On top of that, we have kids who do things like this:
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I am convinced beyond all doubt that our kids could change the world. While other people seem to think that youth are incapable of behaving like adults, I see things differently. I see endless potential in each of our kids here at Veritas, and I'd like to tap into some of that potential.
(Climbing off my soap box)
Focus Four: (Deeper) Prayer
There was a Sunday in youth ministry that will stick with me for all of my days. It was day one as a "professional" youth pastor. We were gathering for our evening meal, and we asked if anyone would like to offer up a blessing. One girl raised her hand faster than I'd ever seen someone raise it before. I was pumped! Then she proceeded:
"A B C D E F G...Thank you God for feeding me. Amen."
So needless to say, I was thrilled to come to Westminster and see kids who were absolutely awesome about praying for each other throughout the week. Sometimes on Wednesday nights, Ed or I have to step in and stop the prayer so it doesn't take all night. This is wonderful.
However, there's so much more to prayer than just praying for and about each other. We want to make sure we spend some time this year teaching about the other kinds of prayer (examine, centering, lectio divina, etc), and equipping the students to do so on their own. We have some specific plans to do this, but we'll talk more about that later.
This of course is all in addition to the things we're already about. I'm super interested in your thoughts, so if you would be so kind as to leave a comment and let us know how all of this strikes your fancy, that'd be stupendous. 
More later,