Picnic Feedback in Fresh Air
Want to start a youth/young adult group? Serve lunch on a perfect day, outside (preferably in the beautiful Austin hill country), bring your guitar, and then pop the questions. Austin First SDA Church has been a hub for vibrant young adult and youth ministry right in UT’s backyard for the past several years. Times have changed, however, and of course with new people you have to change things up a bit in order to rejuvenate and meet new needs. So, Austin First decided to launch something fresh by taking us outdoors.
I got the message while attending an event in College Station. My buddy Kijana asked me to join her & company in Austin this past Sabbath for a picnic. I accepted via text message, and showed up on the perfect day at the perfect time in the perfect place. We headed over to Zilker Park for lunch after church along with several other young adults. Of course by now the secret is out, if you want to attract young people – serve food. Everyone pitched in and with some arriving late, there was enough to fill your plate in intervals. After some mingling, we sang worship songs under the shady trees to the tunes of the guitar. Couldn’t every Sabbath be spent like this? It was worth the 2.5 hour drive from Houston.
Well, aside from friendly fellowship and sustenance the leaders knew what they were up to. In this anti-pressure/chill environment it was the perfect time to hand out a survey. Otherwise, you know those things just end up as instruments for church pew-origami. The survey asked several questions, one of which I couldn’t really answer. It went something like this, is there something you’ve always wanted to do in church, but never have? After more questions, the survey was over and everyone went back to chatting and enjoying the weather. Nice, quick, easy.
While we were all enjoying the atmosphere, I overheard a comment – “I have to get used to fresh air; I’m so used to being indoors.” I think that was my lesson for the day. Young Adult/Youth leadership is difficult just because it is, but there’s also the unique challenge in that we are all undergoing rapid change at this stage. For those who have been called to organize initiatives, keep in mind the benefits of fresh air. We may get used to being indoors and when old friends move away and new people come, group dynamic may shift. Not only do the people who make up the congregation around us change, but we change. Church cliques are cozy until they grow stale. Just because God changes not, doesn’t mean He’s stagnant. We have adjust – no program is too good for participant input & feedback. Have a picnic, and freshen things up a bit.