Parent Meeting RecapSeptember 01, 2016
Thank you so much to all of you who were able to attend our parent meeting last night! In case you missed the meeting, here are some of the items that we went over:
We are so excited that Drew Wilmesherr is now on staff. Please continue to welcome him and get to know him. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a high school/ adult trip planned for the end of June to Guatemala. This is a great trip to take as a family. Please contact Mary Cox for more information: email@example.com
We have all fall dates set and on the calendar! You should be able to find those dates here on the ryeX webstie and also one the RPC calendar at www.roswellpres.org. Also, we set the summer dates! They are:
- Middle School camp: June 1-4
- The WELL (a local mission experience for our high school students): June 4-7
- VBS: June 11-15
- 96:ONE Choir Tour: June 15-19/20
- Guatemala Mission Trip: June 24- July 1 (estimated dates)
- Middle School Chattanooga Mission Trip: June 26- July 1
- Rutledge College Weekend: July 7-9
- Rutledge: July 9-14
It is time to kick off Confirmation! If your student is in 8th grade or older, please make plans to come to an informational breakfast on September 18. Email Mem (firstname.lastname@example.org) to RSVP for the breakfast.
Wednesday night small groups have started! This is an incredible way to get your student connected to other students AND to amazing adults who love the Lord and the youth of this church.
I also gave an update on our time with the consultants from Ministry Architects who are helping us hire our new staff. Two things have come out of that time that I want to make sure you know about:
1. They did a report on the state of our youth ministry. It was a great report! You all have done an amazing job of supporting and running the youth ministry. I have included the majority of the report below. It included our strengths and also some of the challenges that we really need to address.
2. Ministry Architects also helped us evaluate the staff structure that will most effective meet our needs and move us to the next level. After some research their suggestion is based on a model they have seen work at another church. Our search committee and youth council are in the process of working on job descriptions and we will then submit them to personnel for approval. The structure we are submitting for approval is as follows:
- One full-time staff person to focus on the small group ministries of ryeX (and also other youth ministry responsibilities).
- One full-time person to focus on large group activities and programming (and also other youth ministry responsibilities).
- One part-time person to assist in details and other administrative responsibilities (and also other youth ministry responsibilities).
- One part-time intern to help in various areas as well as focus on relational ministry.
This proposed structure allows us to have a holistic approach to youth ministry and really play on the strengths of each staff member. Each staff person would have time in the middle and high school ministry.
Drew Wilmesherr (our current staff member) would serve as the full-time staff member who oversees small groups. We would look to hire all three of the other positions. Once this structure gets approved, I will let you know. We would love for you to pass around the job descriptions and get the word out to as many people as possible.
Please stay in touch with me with any questions or concerns you might have. I am always eager to talk about ways to get as much information out as possible! I want you to always know what is going on! My email is Lyndsay@roswellpres.org
Thank you for all that you do!
Youth Ministry Assessment
Roswell Presbyterian Church, Roswell, GA
Presented by Sara Bailey, Lead Consultant and Search Manager
July 24, 2016
Roswell Presbyterian Church of Roswell, GA is a large, established P.C.(U.S.A.) congregation on the outskirts of Atlanta. The church was established in 1839 while the town of Roswell was incorporated in 1854. The town’s boundaries were a one-mile radius from the church. The church was considered the heart of the Roswell, withstood the Civil War, and remains a vibrant presence in the community.
RPC is currently under the leadership of Dr. Mark Brewer, Interim Senior Pastor since December 2015. The staff comprises of five additional pastors, multiple program staff, and support staff. The church recently lost its beloved senior pastor of 21 years, Dr. Lane Alderman, Jr. In the past year, the church has also experienced significant staff transition in the youth ministry with the departure of the youth director, high school director and most recently, the middle school director. While this much transition in the youth ministry is unusual, it should be noted that all three staff left on good terms and went on to their next call in serving. It was even shared that RPC is known for preparing and launching staff into their next phase of ministry.
The youth ministry, called ryeX, is under the leadership of Rev. Lyndsay Slocum, Senior Associate Pastor for Discipleship. A new youth staff member, Drew Wilmesherr, just started a month ago and the church is searching to fill two youth ministry positions. Summer college interns have been serving the ministry providing continuity in the programs. In the interim period, Lyndsay Slocum and Rev. Emily Wright will oversee the youth ministry. There are about 40 weekly volunteers serving as chaperones, small group leaders, and Talk Back leaders. There is also a Youth Council that serves in an advisory role.
ryeX (Roswell youth experience) primarily consists of the following components:
● Sunday school for youth grades 6-12 at 9:45 – 10:45 AM: Youth gather in the Garage and the Loft for fellowship, music/worship, a lesson, and Talk Back groups divided by gender and grade
● Confirmation in 8th Grade: It is ten weeks (January-March) each year, 8:30 – 9:30 AM on Sunday mornings. Also included are a retreat, service projects, and a mentor component.
● Wednesday Night Small Groups at 6:15 – 7:30 PM: They are divided into small groups by age and gender and is where strong relationships are built and youth go deeper in their faith
● Middle School and High School High Noon: weekly summer Bible study for middle school and high school students on Tuesdays at noon and Digging Deeper: weekly summer Bible study for high school students on Thursday evenings
● MOE (monthly outreach event): once a month on Fridays for middle school youth
● Special Events such as retreats, Rutledge (high school camp), College Weekend, Chattanooga mission trip, and fun activities
● High School Worship Team
● 96:ONE: youth choir for middle and high school students on Sundays, 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Ministry Architects was asked to conduct a search to fill two youth ministry staff positions. A key part of the process involves a one-day youth ministry assessment, designed to provide strategic recommendations to allow the church to provide a sustainable foundation for its youth ministry during this transition. Members of the Youth Council, Youth Search Team, and the staff participated in listening sessions. What follows are the preliminary findings of those conversations and a game plan for making the next strategic steps.
Roswell Presbyterian Church in the Context of
National Youth Ministry Norms
10% of the worshiping congregation:
Ministry Architects would expect to see a program of about 80 youth with an average worship attendance of about 800 church members. RPC currently has about 130 youth attending weekly during the school year. Last year’s Confirmation class had 43 eighth graders and 74 high schoolers went to Rutledge (camp) last week. The youth ministry is well above the norm.
1 full-time staff person for every 50 active youth:
RPC’s current youth ministry staff consists of three full-time positions. Given this norm, the youth ministry is staffed to support a program of about 150 youth. With 130 youth currently participating, the staffing is right on target.
1 weekly volunteer for every 5 active youth:
RPC has about 40 hands-on weekly volunteers. Given this norm, the youth ministry has the volunteer capacity for 200 youth. It is not recommended that the number of volunteers is reduced.
$1500 budgeted per active youth:
Roswell Presbyterian is currently investing $156,550 (program budget and staff salaries) into the youth ministry, $1204 per youth active on a weekly basis. Another way to look at it - RPC is budgeted to support a program about the size of 104 youth. The youth ministry is not funded to meet its current participation level.
Building a Sustainable Staff
When a ministry is based solely on the giftedness of a single staff person, instability is a predictable result. Ministry Architects has found that the most stable approach to staffing a ministry, particularly in the early stages of a rebuild, is to build a staff of three different kinds of people:
● The Architect: A person or organization that designs the building plan and ensures that building is done in compliance with the agreed-upon plan.
● The General Contractor: A person or team who manages the flow and sequencing of work, manages the building process according to the agreed-upon blueprint, and ensures that the appropriate number of “laborers” is in place for each stage of the project.
● The Laborers: Those people with specific gifts and charged with responsibility for particular aspects of the work. In youth ministry, a laborer might have particular skills in relating to students, in planning and managing events, or in teaching or leading a small group or in leading music.
There are a good number of laborers in the youth ministry and the youth staff have served well in the general contractor role. This arrangement, of course, leaves a gap in the role of the architect, typically the one role most often ignored in youth ministries. The church will need to identify someone, ideally not the director staff charged with juggling the many immediate needs facing their ministry areas, to serve in the role of the architect. As our name suggests, Ministry Architects, often serves this role for the churches we work with.
Assets of RPC
The youth ministry is thriving at RPC despite the youth staff transitions. The program was built 15-20 years ago and it has remained strong since. Participants expressed the deep sense of community among the high school youth and college students. Friendships are made that have lasted well into adulthood. RPC has done an amazing job at providing special memory makers for its youth, a safe place to gather, and opportunities for them to grow in their faith.
RPC has fabulous dedicated space for the youth ministry. There is a central lobby/check-in desk/gathering area that invites youth to hang out. The main middle school room is called The Garage. Garage doors were installed to serve as dividers for the large room. Break out rooms are called the Room Next Door and Across the Street. The high school youth gather in a large room upstairs called the Loft. It also has breakout spaces for small group discussions as well as a café area. All areas are youth-friendly, equipped with pool tables or foosball tables, comfortable furniture, and provide the perfect gathering place for teens.
The church has invested wisely in multiple staff over the years who were and are extremely committed to their call to serve youth. While each has brought their own unique gifts, they have all been deeply loved by the youth and parents. Three former youth staff now serve RPC in other full-time staff roles. This is highly unusual but speaks to how much the church values, appreciates, and loves the staff.
This was probably the highest regarded asset of the youth program – its dedicated volunteers. Volunteers have served in the youth ministry for a long time, well after their own children have graduated from the program. They love the youth. They take their call seriously in guiding and walking alongside young people through their adolescence. Some serve both on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights, not out of necessity for volunteers, but because of their love of teens.
Challenges for RPC
The whole church is a bit transition weary with the multiple changes in staff over the past year. With three youth staff departing in the past 12 months, one might think that something is wrong with the youth ministry. Fortunately, that is not the case. It just happens that the timing worked out the way it did. Volunteers, staff, parents, and youth are longing for staff stability.
The youth ministry staffing structure is uncertain at this time. Everyone agrees that there needs to be three full-time staff. However, everyone is not clear on how their roles and responsibilities should be laid out. Multiple ideas are floating around: divide responsibilities by gender (a girls’ youth director) or by age (a high school director) or by tasks (administrative and relational). Clarity is needed regarding the staff job descriptions.
Role of the Youth Council
The members of the Youth Council themselves admitted they could be doing much more. Right now, they meet regularly to give feedback to the staff and evaluate the programs. They are serving more in an advisory role rather than a hands-on, leadership role. While not currently serving their potential, the youth council has the opportunity to live more fully into the role of the architect.
Confirmation as Exit Rite
Large numbers of youth participate in the Confirmation program in 8th grade. But once they have completed that process, many of them don’t continue. They drop out never to be seen again until, possibly, when they graduate. Confirmation is becoming an exit – a path right out the door of the church - when it needs to be an entrance – a path into becoming adults in the church.
Lack of Follow Up
There isn’t a follow up process currently in place for youth that visit RPC or for youth that used to come but don’t attend anymore. Many young people are falling off the radar of the church with no intentional steps to keep them connected to the church.
Lack of Integration
Efforts have been made to integrate youth fully into the life of the congregation but seem to have stalled with the staff transitions. The leadership of the youth ministry needs to pick that back up and build upon what is currently there. Otherwise, the youth will remain separate from the rest of the church.