How To Build Community Among Youth (Hint: We’ve Got It All Wrong)

Problem: There is a tendency to swing the pendulum too far toward either mission or community, neglecting one for the other.

It seems like students often tend to operate in extremes. That’s especially evident in the adventures of teenage love but it’s also there in the ebb and flow of a Christian student’s life.

Depending on their background or whom they follow on Twitter, many students that are full of zeal will tend to overemphasize either mission and outreach or going deeper inside their community.

On one hand, either one should encourage us a little bit because developing students with zeal is a more desirable task than consistently pleading to a room filled with apathy. On the other hand, either of those two bents not coupled with the other is disobedience to Jesus two greatest commandments.

A group of students fixated solely on the worldly needs of others can find themselves disobedient to Jesus commandment in Mark 12:30 to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Their zeal for outreach will come at the expense of a community of believers that can keep them encouraged, accountable and enduring in their love for the Lord.

Those whose greatest desire is deeper fellowship with other believers neglect to follow Jesus second commandment in mark 12:31 – to love our neighbors as ourselves. Lack of love for our neighbors leads to a lack of disciples being made.

Summer student experiences often reinforce the overemphasis on either mission or community. They are structured so heavily around one aspect that they woefully neglect the other. Traditional camps are great for building community and depth in relationships, but they are formed in the absence of mission, so they can break down in the real world once camp is over.

Mission trips are great for helping people see and understand how to live on mission, but can often do so at the cost of community. Conferences equip students for ministry, but can have little practical application and implementation.

We designed SWITCH to have the balance of mission and community packed into one week. We like to say we’re a little bit mission trip, a little bit conference, and a little bit camp.

We desire to see students find mission in the community of their fellow students. We want it so they can experience the joys of obedience to God’s word and for the experience of dying to themselves, living in Biblical community, and serving their city.

We know that one week cannot change these trends or completely remove these dangers. But what if youth made the SWITCH and believed in living on mission with community as their lifelong purpose for His glory? Our prayer is that through Switch, God will move in their hearts, helping you pastor and lead them into a deeper love and passion for Christ and His calling on their lives.