“Don’t forget today is the first Tuesday of April! Come stop by church during lunch for some yummy beef or bean tacos. All are welcome, so bring any of your friends as you’d like to invite! See you at lunch!”
This is the text that I sent out to 10 high school youth from our church at 9:30am – yes, while they were in school! (Our youth have said that it is better to get the reminder while in the midst of their routine, then the night before because they will forget.) At 12:10pm, the first ones arrived – they literally came bursting through the door, running as fast as they could! The next ones to show up, strolled in with smiles on their faces, excited for the meal they were about to enjoy. The stragglers came in, after calling for rides or with their meals from the school. Like we said, all are welcome – even if you despise tacos! 🙂
We had 28 young people, all between 10th and 12th grade show up today. We have been hosting this lunch since November. The first four months, we struggled. We would have 3-6 youth show up, we had some issues with cold weather, we weren’t sure if anyone would show. In February, we debated whether we should try to continue this meal outreach or if it was time to let it go. I remember sitting at the table with our youth team. Our teens said they were disappointed they are too young to be able to come and others saying, we have to give God time to work. Let’s pray about this. Perhaps the ones who have been showing up are the ones that we need to focus on. These are youth that we aren’t connecting with at other times during the week while we do regular programming. So we prayed. We heard God respond, and we committed to the end of the school year.
Okay, so you get how Tacos can be ministry. So where does Snapchat come into play? We found out how to create a Geofilter, and we worked with Snapchat and made one just for us. Once all the kids sat down with their plates, we told them to check out the filter on snapchat! Then, if they friended one of the adults and shared a snap with our filter, they could get a candy bar! We connected with about 15 new youth on social media, and they started sharing about Our Saviour’s with their friends!
Last month we had 20 youth show up. This month, we had 28! Now, I’m a math nerd, so I love data and numbers. But I’m also a church nerd, so I might interpret the data differently than say someone in business.
So here is what the break down of those numbers tells me:
- Groups of young people who would normally not have sat at the same table at school, were sitting together, laughing together, and breaking down barriers together.
- 4 #oslccf youth have shared with a handful of their peers about this place they claim as their church home.
- 24 young people, who may or may not have ever been to church before, had an experience at a church that wasn’t focused on preaching to them or wanting anything from them
- 8 young people came for the first time because a friend of theirs came previously and told them about it
- 3 invited friends from last month, invited their friends this month!
- 7 young people (not #oslccf youth) were surprised that adults had remembered their names from last month.
- 15 teens “friend”-ed an adult from church – which adds to their support network of caring adults
- And allows for them to be part of the church communication without having to wait for friends to pass on the information
- 15 posted on snapchat that they were at church for all to see – which is their community!
- 19 youth recieved a “thank you” from the church, telling them they were a treat, wonderful to meet, and look forward to getting to know them more – right away after clean-up was done
- 28 young people walked into a church today – not on a Sunday – and experienced hospitality and care for who they are.
- 33 people had some sort of impact on their view of faith/church that will stay with them
- If we continue to grow, we might have some growing pains and we might need more help from the congregation as a whole – not just the youth team.
These pieces of data, are important. They tell us that the Spirit is moving and working in the lives of not just the young people, but the adults who serve them during this time. This data says that if we spend time listening to where God is pointing us, and we are faithful to follow through, we can impact the lives of many young people who may not know how much they are loved.
So does 1 hour, Snapchat, and Tacos really matter? I know what our church thinks, but I’ll let you answer that for yourself and your context!