(“Sheesh, Stephanie Caro: could you take any longer getting the final installment posted?” Here it is from Brent Lacy, author of Rural Youth Ministry by Simply. Come meet him at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. He’ll be co-leading the Rural Youth Ministry Connect Group.)
Article 3) Outreach and Cooperation in Rural Youth Ministry
To reach an unchurched community, you have to engage people where they are.
This means getting out of the church building and going to “them.” It’s important to be aware of what is going on in the community. Avoid blindly scheduling events, then wringing your hands if very few participate. An annual festival or the county fair can be a great opportunity to point people toward Christ. If no one is doing anything, pray, plan and participate! If something is already being done, partner with other area ministries for a larger impact.
What are your resources?
In a rural ministry context, resources can be scarce or nonexistent. This forces us as rural youth workers to take one of two attitudes: 1) Find others who are blessed with the resources we lack or 2) We must go it alone, lacking the resources to do what we’re called to do.
In most other professions, that second attitude would be absurd. Imagine your doctor
saying, “Well, we don’t have the antidepressant I need to prescribe for you, but I’ll give you an aspirin.” It’s dangerous. Don’t approach youth ministry this way; it isn’t effective and often not safe!
What can your ministry offer other churches in your area? Is it the gym building your church built? Maybe it’s a youth band or drama group or the church bus that seats four times the number of students you have on any given night.
God has put all kinds of churches into your area to reach all kinds of people.
There is no need to compete because there is no shortage of unchurched families in your area. This does not mean that you have one youth service in the community every week. It means that you work together when possible to make a larger kingdom impact than the individual ministries could alone. We take part in several multi-ministry nights of worship per year, have several joint youth events, and a couple of large outreaches that are sponsored by many of the area churches. Don Perry, the lead pastor at a church near me, says: “The walls have been broken down enough to let us shake hands and work together.” – Brent Lacy