Written by Mike Sheley
Do you remember how fun field trips were in elementary school?!
Even though it meant packing a sack lunch, it also meant going on a bus ride with your friends to some location other than school where you were supposed to learn but it felt like you were just having tons of fun!
I’d like to suggest you do the same for youth ministry.
I’m not talking about planning another trip with your students.
I’m talking about taking some time for you to go and visit another youth pastor at their church.
Lunch and Coffee
Hopefully, you are able to connect with some other youth workers in your community for lunch or coffee on a regular basis. It is so helpful to spend time with people who understand what you do because they do what you do!
But if you’re like me, it often happens at these meetings that people are talking about something they have done with their students, yet I can’t quite understand or visualize how that would have worked.
And if I don’t understand how it worked for them, it makes it that much harder for me to figure out how I might be able to adapt it to work with my own students!
This is where field trips become so valuable!
Go “On Location”
So much of what we see in television and movies is filmed on a soundstage or generated via computer.
That’s why I was fascinated when I was able to drive through Main Street in Plano, Illinois, a few years ago.
This is the town that served as the location for the Smallville battle scene in the Man of Steel movie. So they built temporary buildings, painted windows with Smallville logos, and prepared this whole area to film part of the movie.
Seeing it in person added an element of fun to seeing the movie.
When we go “on location” and visit a fellow youth worker in their own church, we get to see where they do what they do with students and leaders.
It’s one thing to hear about how a local youth ministry checks in their junior high students. It’s another to go see it in person and run through a mock check-in.
When I hear that another church goes from large group teaching to time in small groups with their junior high students like we do, I wonder where those groups meet and how they keep them focused. As I visited churches recently, I was able to see exactly how they each handled that program element.
And although I won’t be building a new student space anytime soon, I can take a few lessons from what I saw and modify those to fit our context and help improve our small group time.
Be a Tourist
What are tourists know for? Taking pictures of everything!
When you visit another youth worker, ask their permission to take pictures of what you see. I recommend using the Evernote app for this process.
You can take pictures and then add a short text note about that picture. Or, if you want to take this to the next level, use the Paper app.
Their spotlight feature allows you to highlight a specific part of your picture so you can remember what in that image was so important.
Tourists also ask lots of questions, sometimes about things that locals take for granted. S
o when you visit another youth worker, be sure to ask questions about their space.
It will help you understand why they do what they do where they do it. And you may learn how some things are very intentional and some things develop unintentionally over time.
Always make sure to welcome the person you have visited to visit your church as well. Whether you think you have an amazing space or not, we all benefit from seeing other spaces used for junior high ministry.
And you might even bring donuts, coffee or pizza when you visit their space as a token of your appreciation.
Field trips are fun. So make sure you remember that the most important thing is spending time with a fellow youth worker. Enjoy getting to see where they minister to students.
And if you’re careful, you might learn something in the process.
Liked this blog post, then you’ll enjoy this middle school ministry event idea:
Mike is the Middle School Pastor at Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana, where he oversees their ministries for 5th-8th graders. He’s been in full-time youth ministry over 15 years with most of that time focused on preteens and junior highers.
Photo by ThoseGuys119 and used under a Creative Commons License from https://flic.kr/p/g9C6AU