A few months ago I went back to my hometown for a quick visit. My family does not live there anymore, and it had probably been about four years since I had visited. As I drove down the main road I barely recognized certain parts of town. While I did not recognize things, as I walked into Chick-fil-a I was sure that I would be playing the part of Norm from Cheers and everyone would shout my name as I entered the doors. This did not happen. In fact, I saw no one that I recognized.
While it would have been great to relive the past, I was faced instead with a very different present. I have also experienced the same thing in ministry. When I came to this church, I brought with me with me some great memories of my own experience as a student in a student ministry. My experiences in high school with church were some of the best times in my life. If it worked for me, I thought, it would definitely work for this church that I was heading to. I envisioned all of the students excited about hanging out at Dairy Queen and wanting to have a great drama team. Basically, I wanted to recreate the ministry that I grew up in, and it was a mistake.
It did not take long to realize that you cannot recreate a ministry, because each church has a different culture and personalities. I tried to get the students into going to Sonic after our Wednesday night program, but it ended up being a really awkward time and I was out about $25 after lending kids money for ice cream. Instead of going off campus (which is a logistical and transportation nightmare, I now realize) we hang out in our student area and play games, fellowship, and have a really good time. This time is now a great tradition in our group, and I can’t think of anything else that would better fit our culture.