Yesterday, I had a great opportunity to talk with youth, young adults and youth leaders from three United Church of Christ churches in the Sioux City area. During this informal conversation, we raised many issues and ideas related to youth ministry. As always, the issue of time came up.

Youth leaders were interested in knowing if any other churches had found creative ways to get on the insanely busy calendars of young people. I spent a few moments wracking my brain, but came up short. I certainly could think of churches that had made major adjustments to schedules. However, no one I knew of had found any magic bullet.

So I answered the question (as I usually do) in a different way. I asked them to think about relationships and priorities.

I reminded them that youth ministry doesn’t just happen when young people are in church or at a church program. It happens when you see kids at school, at sports games, school plays or at their afterschool job. Relationship building is the most vital part of any ministry – you can’t teach anyone about being faithful unless you know them and are serving as a role model.

Most people want their children to have as many opportunities to do as many things as possible. To do this, we over-schedule without any real attention paid to our priorities. Is football more important than our religious beliefs? Should soccer practice take precedence over Sunday worship? Those are questions that families should consider when setting their calendars. But, I bet most just get wrapped up in the moment and don’t have time to think reflectively these things. Why can’t the church create opportunities for them to do that?

So, what do you think? What other issues should we consider rather than simply battling time? Tell me your stories and ideas about this challenge.