The Sweet Spot……………………………Tom Schwolert

The term “sweet spot” is often used in sports.  It is that place on the face of a golf club that creates the best possible shot or on the baseball bat that sends the ball over the center field fence.  Have you ever thought of having a “sweet spot” in ministry?  I can think of a few times when a Bible study just seemed to have all the right ingredients for a unique ministry moment.  I can think of those times when a leadership team of youth just suddenly “clicks” and they truly see their God given purpose.  These are “sweet spot” moments that we treasure in our ministries.  The Exemplary Youth Ministry study encourages us to develop ministry so that we can experience the “sweet spot” in a more holistic way.  The study showed that congregations who focused on the three major spheres of home, congregation and age-specific ministry often hit the “sweet spot.”  When congregations focused on these three spheres simultaneously, the spheres would intersect and create a “sweet spot” where young people were more likely to develop a mature Christian faith.  I love the idea of hitting a “sweet spot” in ministry.  How’s your church doing?   Are you only doing “youth ministry” separate from the congregation?  Are you only helping develop faith in the home?  Are you only working to help the congregation own youth ministry? Take a moment to step back and assess how your church is doing in these three spheres.   In the “sweet spot” of ministry we are using our God given gifts fully and young people are developing a faith that will stand the test of time.  Down the middle of the fairway is always the best place to be.

Tom Schwolert is Director of Youth & Family Ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Flower Mound, TX and has over 22 years of youth ministry experience.

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    • Foster Braumbe
    • July 9th, 2010

    I like the “Sweet Spot” idea. That is the best of all worlds. I don’t want to be the “cup half empty” type, but I also think it is important to consider each on it’s own in the abscence of the others. Families are the ideal place and most effective for passing on faith, when faith is lived out and shared. If the congregation doesn’t foster faith…doesn’t have a youth ministry….this still is sweet. What about the home who has no faith? The congregation and the youth ministry have much to offer. They can be the difference. What about the youth ministry that doesn’t stay inside the congregation…but reaches the kids in the community who will never sit in a church service, but will hear the good news of Jesus’ love and response and be nurtured through the youth ministry…a ministry that gives itself away to the youth of the community?

    Ideals are fine, but I see a lot more of the other three having to be sweet alone. Those kids that have all three working for them are doing so well, but that is a shrinking number because of aging congregations, overstressed families and youth ministries which stay isolated within the walls of the church.

    Let’s give the sweet spot a cheer…but let’s not create an enviroment that is closed or only focused on the youth of the congregation when most youth in our communities are in no congregation.

      • PaulaE
      • July 12th, 2010

      One of the things that seems almost overwhelming is finding that sweet spot with the existance of all three parts of youth ministry. I realize that the EYM study gives us an insight into places where expemplery ministry is happening. But, like the person who commented earlier, each section home-congregation-youth ministry has its own gifts to bring. But rather than being sad about whats missing, at least now we have a clearer target to aim for. Yes each part is important in its own right, but how much sweeter would it be if…. and then find just one way in each main category to grow and improve. And as far as finding that sweet spot, as in sports, we know it doesn;t happen often. Thats why we keeping practicing so then when it does occur……SWEEEEEEEEET!

      • Thanks Paula-
        Yes, it can seem overwhelming to look at the big picture of the “sweet spot.” On the other hand, it can be freeing too? It can give us permission to let go of some things that are having minimal impact on the lives of youth(while sapping our energy) and begin to rethink how we nurture our youth on a congregational level. Who knows, you might even find some strengths that are already there that you can build on.

    • Foster-
      I see your point. Many “youth ministries” meet youth where they are a powerful avenue for faith development. I would not suggest that each of these areas of ministry on their own can’t be “sweet.” I was merely highlighting what the EYM study revealed. I guess it begs the question, “do young people need to ultimately be connected to a local church (“sit in a church service” or better yet, experience regular transformational worship) to grow in their faith? I hope that when we connect youth to Christ, we also connect them with a local faith community? Of course, what that faith community looks like is a whole other discussion topic, eh? Thanks for your thoughts!

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