In our latest post, John brought up a great point in discussing how, in a missional ministry, each context is different. There is no cookie cutter approach because of this. Or, as he said, “there is no missional kit for sale at Wal-Mart.” This lack of understanding was probably one of many learning curves that I had to go through when we first started our high school GoCos (short for “GoCommunities” – RiverTree term for Missional Communities).
In the fall of 2010 we launched 2 high school GoCos in the Jackson Township community. And even though 95% of the students went to the same high school and were basically in the same grade, the groups of students at each GoCo were (are) very different. So, as we started out we wanted to make sure that the 2 GoCos were on a similar rhythm and balance as far as Come, Thrive, GO (previous post). We also wanted them to be on a similar path concerning the discussions and what the structure of each evening would look like. However, looking back, we realized that we overlooked that one simple fact – Every Missional Context Is Different.
Here are some things we realized:
- The use of games and activities. Our GoCo that met on Wednesdays loved doing games and activities before they got into worship, food, or discussion. However, when the GoCo that met on Thursdays tried to do games, it felt like pulling teeth – they just wanted to hang out, relax, and talk.
- The approach to discussion will be different. We tried to align, and still do align, discussions amongst GoCos. However, just because we would incorporate one illustration at a certain GoCo, it did not mean that it would register to the other GoCo. Or, just because a verse in a section of scripture spurs on discussion amongst students in one context, does not mean that it will with other students in a different context. You and your leaders must know your students.
- Worship might look different. One of our GoCos really enjoys singing and being led in song by other students and the other GoCo really doesn’t get into singing. So, with that GoCo we have found other ways to help the students Come into God’s presence – via prayer, different reflective times, and creative ways of incorporating technology. From time to time, that GoCo will still sing with student led worship, but it’s not as frequent.
Even though we have had some learning curves it has been such a fun journey! The learning curves and those moments when we said “Whoops,” and had to try it again, have actually been part of the fun because they have provided the best opportunities for growth. The last year and half of doing GoCos with students has truly been an adventure. We have had good times and we have had rough times. But at the end of the day God has been good and the Holy Spirit has moved and is continuing to move in all that we are led to do.
Feel free to ask questions or to share some of your stories from your student ministry experiences! We would love to hear from you.