For the past few years, our venturing crew has served as the youth ministry for our church. Now, after some discernment, we have decided it is time to completely separate the youth ministry and the venturing crew. This is exciting, but it also presents some challenges, because in many ways we are starting over again.
Originally we started out as “youth group” rather than “youth ministry”, but for a number of reasons, we were pushed us more in the youth ministry direction. The caused us to look less and less like a venturing crew over the past few years, because what we were doing originally was not standard for youth ministry (at least for youth ministry as it was intended to be implemented at our church):
- We could no longer be youth led.
- We had to be high school only, which meant we could not recruit eighth graders or older teens.
- We could not appear to be a “Scout unit” for fear that would not be appealing to high school students.
So I think this split will be good both for our crew and the youth ministry program at our church. Now both programs can operate as they should. And I think they will complement each other rather than be in competition. The youth ministry program will focus on spiritual development. Our venturing crew will focus on developing leaders, planning fun social activities, and on service projects.
Now, as the crew advisor, I am faced with the challenge of building membership again. I am in the process of identifying a leadership team. I hope to have officer elections again soon. I do have a few of the older teens who were just getting started with venturing when we moved more in the youth ministry direction. They are excited to be doing “real venturing” again. But they are older and will probably only be around for another year or so. So I am working with them to try to get some of the younger students as excited about venturing as they are.
We are having an overnight event at a cabin in April and we are hoping this will be a good opportunity to get some of our eighth graders hooked. So we will see where this goes. I think we have the potential to be a really active crew again if we can come up with a group of teens who are interested in leadership, service, and fun.
(And if you are in St. Louis MO and are looking for a venturing crew to get involved with, please feel free to contact me! We are a pretty easy going group and we might be a good fit for you. Our group has never been super outdoorsy, but we do like to have fun, lend a helping hand where we can, and meet new friends. 🙂 )