Working with the crazy schedule of the youth and their families makes me crazy! Here’s why:
In April / May, I begin to plan the next years youth schedule. That often includes youth meetings, Confirm not Conform class or mission trip, special youth events, fundraisers, parent support events, church school and volunteering.
Then I need to review 5 school districts school schedules and the church schedule. I also look at my personal family calendar too. In the fall I will get their sports, work and musical schedules and try to work around those.
But despite all my efforts, youth and church events often become the back-up activities, “if we can fit it in.”
The hardest part of our Confirm not Conform program is that we make the kids, families and mentors sign a covenant in front of the parish in the fall because we have expectations of them. This is common in all their other activities, but they don't expect it at church.
I’ve come to realize that I have expectations for youth and parents as individuals and a group outside of CnC, yet I have not shared them with the youth or their families. At the same time, I have even bigger expectations of myself to not scramble to meet their crazy schedules. I’ve found I have jumped into the parents’ stress of "But he/she has to be involved in all of this for College / Success." And I’ve finally concluded that something’s got to change.
This year I am designing a letter that is more than the typical welcome back letter. It will be a simple covenant between the youth, staff, and the families for the year. I’m writing it not just to my Confirm not Conform families but to all my families to clarify that youth group is more than two hours of games and food.
Here are some of the expectations that I will set for youth, families, and the program that we offer.
We affirm that those who participate in the youth program will honor the following principles:
- Mutual respect of their time and of ours
- A time and place to be spiritual and pray
- A time to offer putting their faith in action through volunteer work
- A place for the youth to explore, experience, and hear the stories of the Bible in a way that is relevant to their daily lives
- A safe place for the youth to question and hear the opinions of others
- Fellowship, food and fun
- Confidentiality for kids and parents
- [And a line for them to add their own idea]
What would you add to the covenant at your church? I would love to hear your ideas.
I will include this covenant as a cover letter for the fully detailed schedule that I send out in July. I will ask them to talk as a family about what time they will commit to youth events, then sign and return it along with the mandatory permission /medical forms.
I am going to offer up what I can when I can. I plan to try to stay focused on what we the church have to offer their kids and their families. I will be clear about what I have to offer them.
I hope they will read my cover letter/covenant. I want the letter to remind them that what we have to offer them will be there for them for a lifetime, not just this year. I need to remember that too.