The church does not hold the monopoly on adventure, joy or fulfilling, healthy friendships.
If we’re honest, I think we can become absorbed in the ideal that the church would run the best football team, the best Brownies group, the best orchestra and the best youth hang out in town, and that kids would fill their entire week with church activities. With this image in mind, we can be blind to the opportunities currently open to our young people beyond the youth group walls.
I am not suggesting that that is not a good and godly vision - how wonderful, to serve the locality and welcome people into a safe, encouraging, God-revealing community every day. However, whilst working towards that do we neglect to help our young people think beyond the church walls to find opportunities to grow in their gifts, make friendships that will challenge and bless them and seek to serve God elsewhere? There are chances to fulfil all that God has for them amongst new friends, adventurous travels and high quality activities. Just because they are not experiences and adventures with church doesn’t mean they’re not experiences and adventures with God.
How often do we sit a young person down and say ‘what has God gifted you in and how can you use that gift...elsewhere?’ How often do we intentionally invest time in helping our young people pursue adventures in the real world, and then support, encourage and guide them through the part that plays in life to the full with God?
As youth workers, is it our responsibility to oversee young people’s church engagement, or to encourage them into whole lives lived for God, discovering him in all the experiences of life?