I think that after my experiences in biblical and ministry education, social interactions with mostly Christians, and some frustration with overused and under-practiced phrases. Needless to say, the word “community” is one of them.
Phil Bell on YouthworkTalk.com talks about “Moving from Cliques to Community in your Youth Ministry” as a process of casting vision, challenging cliques and clusters, calling out adult leaders contributing to the problem, and creating intentional activities such as games are important. I think that these are all good, but we have to make sure that these things are happening outside of just the youth group, Sunday School, and special event settings.
Community and relationships are really developed when we take time outside of formal settings to listen, learn, and discuss the things that are important to the youth we serve. This is also good for adults to engage with families and make relationships with the youth in their neighborhood who don’t attend their church. Often these opportunities can be used to invite people to church, share the Gospel, and even field questions if people look to you as a spiritual mentor.
How do you work on developing intentional relationships with the youth in your church outside of the formal church settings? What kind of subjects do your students share with you? Have you been able to create relationships with youth and families that live in your neighborhood?