God is my Director

Youth ministry, movies, no drugs and a variable amount of Rock ‘n Roll

All hail the new girl

Posted by Martin on December 8, 2006

I help out at a small laid-back youth club, which meets once or twice a week. We’ve been around the ten-member mark for a long time now, and although no-one seems intent on leaving, we rarely have any new joiners either.

I was fairly surpised then, when last night, a new girl strode confidently towards me and introduced herself. She’d been invited by one of the group’s stalwarts (who hadn’t actually expected her to come), and she was coming from somewhere completely off my radar. I don’t know if she buys in to the same ideas about God and faith that I and some of the group do, but that wasn’t what last night was about. What was really exciting was the way in which, almost effortlessly, she blended into the group as if she’d been coming all year. By the end of the evening, she was genuinely part of us – and so something had taken place which I didn’t know was possible – instant belonging. If you came along next week, I guarantee you wouldn’t be able to pick new girl out of the crowd.

There’s two sides to that. She’s a real extrovert, very friendly, and prepared to take social risks – which means she was happy to dive head first into a group and see what happened. But the group accepted her – that’s the other side of the coin, and the far more exciting one for me. We’ve been slogging away with ten kids or less for a year now, despite pressures from all sides to somehow manufacture growth, and we’ve never had more than ten. But when kid number 11 turned up, the group was absolutely ready for her. It offered genuine community, and absorbed her wholeheartedly. I’m so proud of them.

So many of us in youth work have to cope with unrealistic expectations of growth as a matter of course. But what good is numerical growth if your young people don’t know, like or gel with one another? You just end up with a roomful of people who’ve turned up to see a show, and then go home. Surely we should be aiming to create a group which interacts on more than just a superficial level; where all the members care for one another, and the group, and feel like they genuinely belong? Jesus worked with 12 young men, for three years, and at the end of it had a group so strong that it persuaded half the world to join. Perhaps we should pay more attention to His model.

New girl is great, by the way. She made a great impression, which lifted the group. And incidentally, she has the kind of sticky personality that could act as a quick catalyst for further growth. Which is great – so long as we don’t lose that precious sense of community. Until last night, I had no idea just how genuine it was.

3 Responses to “All hail the new girl”

  1. I’m really enjoying reading about your thoughts, your expectations and chewing on your words. Thanks!

  2. Gim.D said

    Thanks Mark – really appreciate the positive feedback – certainly makes it worthwhile.

  3. […] As planned, our youth group assembled with a handful of other brave church members on the local council housing estate last night, assigned with the task of singing some carols and handing out some mince pies. Enthusiastic new girl was there, along, incredibly, with two even newer girls! There were about 20 of us in all, including two guitar-wielding church leaders, and we made a good attempt at a few of the classics. […]

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