Today’s youth work Q&A is based on a post written by Andy over at Youth Ministry 360.
Q: There are many young people who are involved in athletics programs at school where practice is scheduled on the same nights that the youth group meets. What can be done to adapt your youth ministry programs to allow for greater participation?
A: It definitely seems like sports are more integral to a student’s life than I’m used to (I moved to the US from the UK a few years ago). Sport is popular in the UK, but there’s much less of a focus on it when it comes to school.
As for college sports, there’s far less participation in the UK at this level, versus the huge amount of money that is the US college sports machine.
Like Andy said in his post, some of this involvement seems to be excessive. However, as a lot of this seems to be initiated by parents, it’s going to be hard to go against this without causing possible issues in your relationships with them.
As a result, is there any way that you can accommodate their sporting commitments as part of your programs? Here are three ways that you can encourage greater participation in your youth ministry and reach your athletic students:
Change the day / time you meet
Does your youth ministry have to meet on Wednesdays and/or Sundays? Or can you meet earlier or later to allow for the athletes to attend?
Changing the time and/or day will probably mean other students wouldn’t be able to attend as they’ll have their own existing commitments, but if athletes make up a large proportion of a youth group, this could still ultimately help you to reach more youth.
Set up an athlete Bible study
Presuming that a lot of your students go to the same school, is it possible to organize a Bible study that happens either immediately before or after practice?
Even if they’re not able to be part of the regular youth group activities, this will give them an opportunity to be fed spiritually by either yourself (if it fits in with the rest of your scheduling that day) or by some of your volunteers.
Set up a mentoring scheme
Are there any (or enough) adults who’d be willing to mentor one or more of the student athletes? This could involve them attending games, meeting the student(s) after practice and spending an hour with them at Starbucks to discuss their faith, etc.
Again, they may not be able to be involved in your regular activities, but it’s a great way to continue your connection with them and help support them.
Question: What other ways can you reach student athletes in your youth ministry? Let us know in the comments below.
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