If there is one adjective to define the life of today’s student, it is busy. Between school, travel ball, band, choir, and other extracurricular activities, students show up to youth group completely drained. They have been asked to give 100% of their energy in so many different areas, and they slide into the chairs in our youth rooms wanting something that makes youth group worth attending.
So often as youth pastors, we miss the opportunity cost that the students are sacrificing to be at our youth ministry program. For those of us unfamiliar with this business term, “opportunity cost” is the things that a student is giving up to be at youth group. This could include time for homework, time with family, time with friends, or simply time to relax. Attendance at youth group costs our students something. The question is: Is your youth group worth their time?
If we are following attractional youth ministry models, we would say that youth ministry should be about having a good show. We should have lots of games and entertainment to make the youth group entertainment value up to par with what students would view on TV. The problem with this attractional model is that students may walk away with a good time, but they will not have any biblical substance to sustain them when they enter back into their busy world.
In order to make youth group worth our students’ time, we must offer them biblical content that is thoughtful and helpful to them in the middle of their busy lives. Youth group must be a place of spiritual refreshment, refueling, and challenge. Students should leave youth group with something that matters – not just for eternity but for their life tomorrow.
As youth ministers, content must be our focus. If we have students that are sacrificing to be in our youth groups, we cannot merely offer them a standard talk that we reused or threw together a few hours before youth group. We must seek the Lord for a fresh word for our students. We must pray that the Holy Spirit would fill us with life-changing truth and empower us to communicate that truth in a life-changing way to our students.
There is a cost for students to attend our youth group. What are we doing to make sure that when students arrive, we have not wasted their time?