Recently, I came across a question posted on one of the facebook groups that I am involved in entitled, Youth Pastors Only. The question read, “Who does Student Ministry at an extremely high level in a portable environment? Would love to talk with them.” At first, I had no idea what he meant by portable, and then he explained that it is what it is, a portable environment. You set up and tear down each week. I thought to myself, “That is us!” We have been in this transition of setting up and tearing down our student ministry each week since I came on staff here at the church. Our student ministry has outgrown any room that our facility has so we use the gym on Wednesday nights. Luckily, we have a Christian school here at our church so we have the gym available for use right here on our campus. We set up everything and tear it all down when youth group ends. Many times it is frustrating. It is the same routine every Wednesday. At 3:15 pm, our students start rolling in, and begin setting up everything. You may be asking what do they set up. Well here is what everything means: 15 tables, 100 chairs, stage, screen, projector, and sound system. That is a lot of stuff that our students are committed too each week. I tend to personally complain about this a lot, but this question made me think of the positives to a portable environment. I am not going crazy with this, because when we get into our new church building, I am pushing hard for a consistent place to meet, but while we are in this phase of our ministry, here are the positives to do student ministry in a portable environment:
- A portable environment provides service opportunities for your students– This is the most impressive thing about our set up and tear down each Wednesday for youth group. It is completely run by the students. We have about 15 students come and set up everything. They do a fantastic job, and when youth group is over, they tear it all down. They are committed and it makes it feel like their own, and this goes a long way in the mind of a student. Being in a portable environment creates service opportunities for your students to get together and serve with one another.
- A portable environment provides fellowship for your students– You better believe that we work on Wednesdays, but we also have some good fellowship. Some of the best conversations have been held during set up or tear down. Some of the best relationships have been built during this time. Occasionally we will go out and geocache for fun or go to McDonald’s if we get set up in time. The students love this, and it provides unity and fellowship.
- A portable environment teaches students to work– This one is not fun for students in their heads, but it does teach students to work to earn what they want. If they want a thriving student ministry, they have to work to get it, and they understand this!
- A portable environment makes you thankful– Honestly, I am just grateful that we have a place to meet, and I do not care if it is a gym, school, church building, or whatever, we have a place to meet, and this should make us thankful! Our students have learned thankfulness for this place even if they get aggravated with the time that it takes! It could be worse for us, but luckily the Lord has blessed us with this space for now.
- A portable environment gives you vision– Our church is building a new church facility a mile down the road. We are planning on beginning the actual structure of the transitional building here in another year or so. So, eventually we hope to have our own space, but until we do, I am slowly gaining a vision of what I see us having down the road that I might not have had if I was not currently in a portable environment. Being where we are has given me a vision for where we need to be, and I am looking forward to when God eventually takes us there!
If you are in a portable environment, hang in there. It could be a lot worse! If you have thoughts to add to this, use the comment box below: