Students know how to reset all kinds of devices, but resetting a student ministry is not so simple. Everyone knows that most adults “don’t like change,” but some students in high school and even junior high can also get entrenched in patterns and expectations. Even volunteer leaders feel hesitant as changes take shape, which is significant in student ministries where our team carries much of the weight of weekly ministry. To reset our weekly rhythms of ministry and community there was no button to push; it required wisdom and communication and patience.
One major factor that led us to reset the service format was our awareness that students spend most of the year learning in lecture style classes. This makes it tough for them to engage for an extended time of preaching in the middle of the week. We also wanted to help students grow deeper connections to other students, adult leaders and, most importantly, the scripture.
We started our transition by casting vision about our desire to maximize the value of our time with students when we gathered. The thought of changing our service structure alarmed some of our volunteer leaders. For several months, when we gathered with our leadership team, we spent time talking about the values that were leading us towards this shift.
Eventually, we launched a new Wednesday structure that starts with worship, followed by 15-25 minutes of teaching, roughly 30 minutes of discussion and prayer in gender-specific small groups that we call Circles. This helps us nurture relationships within our group and personalize the application of the scriptures we’re exploring. We still do one service a month in a large group format built around a theme that we call an Invite Night.
It sounds simple enough, but there have been bumps in the road. As we continued to articulate the values behind our change in format, we found increased appreciation and participation. Thankfully, our new structure is producing fruit. The health of our ministry continues to increase; we are excited about what The Lord has in store for us.
Chris and Nia Gillott serve at CLC in Bensalem where they do ministry as a team. They love helping students discover what it means to be a disciple and equipping them to make disciples! They’ve been married since 2005, and have two children – David and Evangelia. Chris’s interests include running, making music and cheering for the E-A-G-L-E-S! Nia enjoys cooking (it’s her love language), photography, graphic design and she’s learning to sew. As a family, they love to be outside, to be together and to make new friends.