The 4 Segments Of Our Program: Ranked In Order Of Importance

We have a pretty basic program for our middle school students on Sunday mornings, but what makes it unique (I think) is which segments we feel are most important. Here is our order of service…

20 min of Games/Fun
15 min of Worship/Music
15-20 min of Communication
25-30 min of Small Groups

And here is my opinion of what their ranking of importance is:
(this is just my opinion and I understand every context is different)

1. Small Groups. We believe if we could only do one thing great, it would have to be small groups. I believe above all else our job as Youth Pastors should be to create opportunities for students to discuss their life and faith in a safe place. Discussion and relationships = best opportunity to grow.

2. Games/Fun. Yup, I have games and fun ranked above worship and communication. This is because I believe that we will be most successful in reaching students by offering an environment that is fun and students love to be at. We build trust with fun, we build relationships with fun, and we build engagement with fun. It’s not uncommon for parents to tell us that their kids are the ones dragging their family out the door to church every week. Just think about that. What an amazing idea – middle school students that can’t wait for church.

3. Communication. For us the goal of our communication is to set up great small groups. The speaker is mostly just introducing the topic, engaging students with some sort of illustration, relating the topic to the bible, and then releasing the students into small groups so they can discover the application as a group. There is no pressure on the speaker to deliver an amazing message, their main goal is to set small groups up for a great discussion.

4. Worship/Music. We believe that our worship/music time is important – that’s why it’s a part of our weekly gathering. But in my opinion it is the least important out of our 4 major segments. We do have an awesome worship leader Brian, who is all about getting students plugged in and creates a fun time of worship for us on Sundays.

 

What do you think?

We value you’re input and want to have discussion with you. What segments do you incorporate into your weekly program? What are most important parts and why? Please, leave a comment and join the fun!

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  • Brian Hahn

    Great article. I agree with this list. I’ve had members at my church (usually the old wrinkly ones) question why I feel like I always have to have a game for the kids or why I use such a large portion if the youth budget on game supplies. Bottom line: kids who don’t know Jesus need to be motivated to be at church. Without fun, they will find somewhere else to be.

    • http://funninja.org/ Kenny Campbell

      Thanks Brian!

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  • Chad

    Curious what things you do to make your small groups successful. Maybe this would be a good future blog post. How do you train your leaders? Have you found a good way to organize the groups? Do you just discuss or do you add video, games, activities, etc.? Sorry. Lots of questions. You guys just seem to do everything with such great quality. You’re great online mentors. Thanks.

    • http://funninja.org/ Kenny Campbell

      Hey Chad! That would definitely be a great future post idea – it’s on the list now. But for now I’ll share a little about what we do… We organize our groups just by grade and gender, nothing special. I love the idea of splitting them up by schools and/or region but for us there are just too many variables for that go smoothly every week, so we just stick to simply grade and gender.

      The only place we’ve written about our volunteer training strategy is here:
      http://shop.stuffyoucanuse.org/products-page/volunteer-training/1-year-volunteer-training-strategy/

      As far as if we add games, videos, or other aspects to small groups – we leave that completely up to our small group leaders and encourage them to be as creative as they want. I personally play a quick game with my small group every week (7th grade boys). They love it and it gets them all participating early and breaks down any walls for visitors.

      We also offer our Volunteer Handbook here:
      http://shop.stuffyoucanuse.org/products-page/volunteer-training/volunteer-handbook-with-editable-files/

      I hope that helps. We’ll blog more about this soon and we are really excited about this for our small groups…
      http://www.dontclimbalone.com/

  • Javier Roche

    Do you use the same format for Senior High?

    • http://funninja.org/ Kenny Campbell

      Hi Javier!

      It is very similar for High School, but not in all aspects. Our high school ministry values Small Groups above everything else like we do, but games wouldn’t be second for them – they go for more of a coffee house vibe and place a lot more value on music as well.

      But as far as the format, it is the same. They do a welcome portion in the beginning of their program, then music, message, and small groups. They only meet on Wednesday nights.

      I hope that answers your question. Let me know if you have any others!

  • Russell Martin

    stumbled onto your site when a friend pinned one of my posts on pinterest, and I found the the stocking tug of war game shared on her board also. We just started this same sort of small group format at our church. Being a worship leader at the same church previously I felt a little weird that our game component was larger than our music time, and felt guilty when I had thoughts that we could do a whole night without music time. Nice to see that I’m not crazy.

    Because I do have a lot who love the more intense times of music/worship etc we will schedule a night at the beginning or end of a series that is a worship service. I use this either to wrap up or introduce the series.

    Love the site, now I’ll go back to combing through and gleaning more awesome ideas.

    • http://funninja.org/ Kenny Campbell

      Hey Russell!

      Thanks for the comments. You’re not crazy! Or at least you’re not the only one who is crazy :)

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  • Scott Dishong

    Do your students have the opportunity to go the main worship service?

    • http://funninja.org/ Kenny Campbell

      Hi Scott!

      Yes – every family has the option to worship together if they prefer, and some probably do. But if you’re asking if we have certain weeks that there is no middle school program and the only option is to go to the main worship service – that only happens on Easter and Christmas. Every other week of the year we offer a middle school worship environment.

      My friend Katie leads a middle school ministry during their normal adult weekend gathering times too, and their church does what they call “Worship Together Weekend” ever month. Basically once a month they shut down their student program and encourage families to attend church together. I think it’s a cool idea, you can read more about it here…
      http://saddleback.com/blogs/communityblog/worship-together-weekend-2/

      I think your question is a good one, and because we don’t have something like “Worship Together Weekend” at our church, it’s super important that we make connecting parents and families in our ministry a very high priority. So even though middle school students may not worship with their parents on Sunday mornings at our church, we make it a priority to engage families in other ways.

      Was that kind of the angle of your question? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts. Thanks!

      • Scott Dishong

        Yeah that was what I was looking for thanks .. What ways do you encourage family worship?