How do you demonstrate what's important in your life? Some people throw money at causes they deem to be important. Others donate their time and talents to things they deem as important. When the rubber hits the road, however, how do we demonstrate those things that are ultimately important in our lives?
We make choices. In today's world our time is at a premium. Most of us own some sort of electronic device that helps us keep our schedules straight. We type into those devices where we will be at any given time. Those devices are digital proof of what we view as important.
What happens when we have to make a difficult choice? It happens all the time in youth ministry. Every school year each student is bombarded with a thousand different ways to spend their time. There are clubs, sports, jobs, homework, family time, and youth groups that require those precious few moments. How do we prioritize our list?
A large percentage of Americans claim to believe in God. Many of those people would consider themselves to be Christian. Many of those Christians go to church on a regular (or semi-regular) basis. Our churches are usually equipped with youth rooms that offer midweek programs run by terrific people known as youth workers. Youth group is at or near the top of the list in terms of priorities for a lot of Christian teens. Except for when it isn't.
I'm going to stop right now and tell you that I don't think anyone needs to be in church every time the doors are unlocked. I also don't believe that any of the activities mentioned earlier are not worthy endeavours. But, I do beleive this. When teens estabilsh the habit of ALWAYS chosing other activities over their spiritual formation they are headed for trouble. And we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Somewhere down the line we made it ok for sports and band practices to be scheduled and mandatory on youth group nights. Some schools even hold practices on Sundays! I've wittnessed too many parents that bow to the "it's mandatory" reasoning. Businesses that hire teens used to respect a young person's efforts to attend midweek church activities. Sadly, those days seem to have passed. Youth group is becomming a place to go when nothing else is going on for far too many youth.
We, as parents, have an obligation to our kids. If they see us working on Sundays or being too busy to get involved in church activities then we are sending the message that this "Church Thing" isn't all that important.
I'm not willing to let that happen.