By Cory Sullivan, Youth Pastor at Wheatland Community Church in Rush, NY
When I hear the terms “small church” or “rural church,” a few things immediately come to mind: small attendance, limited volunteers, and a tiny (or non-existent) budget. There’s little time, little help, and little money to waste on something that won’t work. That’s why a resource like XP3 works so well for a small or rural church context. It allows a student pastor to do what they do best—build community—giving them all the resources and tools they need to put on a program for any number of students.
Though it may not differ much from any other church, here’s how I get the best out of my XP3 resources in a small church setting.
1. Leverage the relationships in your church to connect with students. Think about who you can invite to be a leader in your ministry. Think about recruiting graduating seniors to lead your middle schoolers. Ask your current volunteers to invite their friends to check out your ministry, and consider recruiting them as well. Remember, not everyone has to serve every single week to be part of your ministry. So think of people in your church that can use their gifts to serve in your ministry in any capacity, big or small. That could include everything from a weekly Small Group Leader to a one-time host for a special event. No matter who you choose, make sure you’re choosing people who will help you connect with your students.
2. Contextualize your content. XP3 has some amazing suggestions of interactive components, activities, and experiences you can do with your group. However, there are times when you may not have the resources you need, the right environment, or the right equipment to pull it off. Consider this your time to shine! Look at the main idea of the activity and then, look for ways to make the connection with what you have. When you’re done, contact your Orange Specialist and tell them about it! You never know how what you come up with can help other ministry leaders in similar contexts.
3. Cue parents about what their kids are learning in your ministry. Better yet, communicate with parents using the platforms they most often use. While social media works best for students, writing an email or sending home a flyer might be what works best for parents. The great thing is that XP3 has pre-written parent emails and printable parent resources, so if you aren’t really a writer, no worries! XP3 already has you covered with content.
4. Set your leaders up to be the heroes. With all the resources that XP3 makes available to you ahead of time, you can set your leaders up to be the real heroes. Email them the materials they’ll need to prepare for each week’s lesson days in advance. This gives them a chance to look it over before the day your ministry meets so that on that day, they can be present with their students, run games and skits, share an engaging story, or make announcements about what’s coming up in your ministry.
5. Focus on relationships in your ministry. From graphics to Small Group questions to games and so much more, XP3 does the work for you ahead of time. And that means you can do what only you as the ministry leader can do: Focus on relationships with your students. Because when you don’t have to spend time creating images, or writing social media posts, or brainstorming Small Group questions (just to name a few of the countless other tasks you have!), it frees you up to focus on the real win: relationships.
Not sure how XP3 could work in your context? That’s what your Orange Specialist is for. Contact them today to get some ideas on how to get XP3 started at your church.