Taking Summer Programming Out of the Box

Fuller Youth Institute

Today’s guest post is by Kris Fernhout, a Fuller DMin graduate and a Student Ministry Pastor at Christ Community Church near Kansas City. Christ Community was part of the 2011Sticky Faith Cohort.

As anyone who has worked in student ministry for more than a few years can tell you, the summer has a rhythm all its own.  Student programming feels different, church services feel different, children’s ministry feels different.  Scott Cormode, in teaching how to manage change during the Sticky Faith Cohort process, has drilled into our heads that change management is about ‘failing people’s expectations at a rate that they can stand.’  Given these two truths about summer programming and change management, what a great opportunity to try and build a culture of intergenerational worship in the church.

In our church we deeply value age appropriate programming and we deeply value corporate worship.  We want our families to deeply value both and to engage in both on a weekly basis.  To encourage this, as a campus staff, we decided to only offer age-level programming for all grade school children and students during our first worship service (we strongly felt children and students would be more motivated to come to the first service for age appropriate programming) and invite families to worship together as families in the second service.  Parents were encouraged to serve during the first service throughout the summer, so they would be doing something while their kids were in age-level ministry.

Our reasoning behind this decision was both pragmatic and strategic.  Summer is a bit different in programming and attendance: so let’s take advantage of it.  We also wanted to try something that might bleed into the fall, might change some habits and help to build a culture of intergenerational worship. 

As the student ministry pastor, perhaps what I’m the most excited about is the buy-in from our senior leadership.  They see and understand the short term cost of building a culture and theology of intergenerational worship in our church, but they also see the long-term costs of not doing it and the long-term fruit if we do.  In a broadcast email to our congregation and a pulpit announcement, our campus pastor told the church:

Embrace a little chaos. Don’t merely tolerate it, celebrate it for the good of those growing up in our midst. Every Sunday, make it your goal to meet a couple of kids. Tell them how glad you are they are a part of our church family.

This past Sunday was the first Sunday with this new programming change.  Our second service was packed with families with kids of all ages (we had to add rows of chairs in the back!)  We’re working hard to engage every set of feet in the building, to acknowledge and value everyone through our fellowship, worship and teaching.  I’m sure we’ll learn a few things along the way of what not to do and what not to say, but we’re going to embrace the chaos and pray that God helps the faith of all our congregation, young and old, get a little more sticky.

What Sticky Faith ideas is your church experimenting with this summer?

Published Jun 21, 2012
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