5 IMPORTANT VALUES FOR YOUR YOUTH GROUP FAMILY
As a parent, one of my felt obligations is to instill within my family a sense of identity based on values I feel are important. I want my family to be united by a sense of “this is who we are”. One of the subtle ways my wife and I carry out this mission is through a framed list of identity statements or “family values” that hangs on the wall next to our dining room table. This visible reminder of the values we aspire to helps to encourage us to live them out.
One of my goals as a Student Pastor has always been that the students in my care will experience a sense of being a “family” with their peers and leaders. One way to ensure this is to have a set of values that guides the culture of my ministry to become one where this sense of family is achieved. I would encourage any youth worker to establish similar values for their group. Here are 5 to get started:
IN OUR FAMILY, WE ENCOURAGE
Ideally, family feels like a safe and secure place where we can be refueled. One way this happens is through the encouragement of those we know care about us most. The quickest way a student will feel a sense of belonging in a ministry is being encouraged and celebrated. Students and leaders should champion and cheerlead each other! Marking milestones, celebrating victories, and praying specifically for each other are all ways this can take place.
IN OUR FAMILY, WE CONTRIBUTE
In every household there are tasks that are required to keep the family functional. Ministries are no different. Not only do practical tasks need to be done, but relational contribution and investment needs to take place, as well. Students and leaders should be called on to contribute to the demands of set-up and clean-up, administrative tasks, and programming. However, the vision behind these tasks needs to be something more than “this needs to get done”. People need to see that they each have a role to play in their youth group family. Additionally, they need to know that their words are valued and carry weight. Students need to know that God has put them in the midst of their church family not only to receive, but also to give!
IN OUR FAMILY, WE LOVE
In a family, love is often a felt emotion, but at times it is also a cognitive choice. Additionally, appropriate acts of love unexpressed shortchange God’s design for us. Love is a defining attribute of Christian community. John 13:15 (NIV) states, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love on another.” Ministry groups are a great platform for teens to understand how to love others well as they learn of the love of God for them. In fact, when the discipline of love is learned by a group, it becomes one of their greatest tools for growth and evangelism!
IN OUR FAMILY, WE FORGIVE
Every family experiences conflict. With the amount of time that our students and leaders spend together, coupled with the environments of vulnerability and honesty that we desire to create, there are going to be moments where feelings are hurt and the opportunity for division occurs. Developing a culture of forgiveness not only keeps our group intact, it allows us to understand the forgiveness we have in Jesus to a greater extent. Often, relationships that weather the storm of conflict and forgiveness come out the other side stronger and of a greater depth.
IN OUR FAMILY, WE LAUGH
Some of the best memories with family and friends are those that include lots of laughter! This is why we can tell the same stories over and over again, and still find humor in them. Memorable ministries are those where laughter takes place. The chemical reactions that happen within a human being when they feel and express joy and humor bond them to those they are with in a significant way. “Fun” and “substance” are not mutually exclusive, our groups can have both! In a world that weighs heavy on so many of our students, a place of smiling and laughter offers them a special kind of sanctuary where they can often experience Jesus best.
As you reflect on these suggested values, which ones do you feel your group family has a firm grasp on? Which need some work? What can help get you there? Is it time for a “Family Values” talk with your students and leadership? Maybe it’s time to write a list and find a place to hang it.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.