Do you have a great idea for Outreach to Teens? Here is an idea from Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Wailuku, Hawaii.
They have set up a small weight room and recruited part-time volunteer coaches for a weightlifting ministry that has proved effective at reaching youth in the community.
Participants begin with basic physical fitness, including push-ups, sit-ups, crunches and dumbbells. Eventually, the students who come to the church’s Queen Emma Athletic Club move on to full back squats and learn proper weightlifting techniques, such as the “clean and jerk” and the “snatch.”
Keku Akana, a former competitive weightlifter and retired deputy police chief in Maui, started the athletic club in response to the congregation’s Episcopal priest calling in 2003 for more focus on outreach.
Akana says one student came to the club as a suicidal 14-year-old living in low-income housing with a grandparent. The student ended up graduating high school with a 3.5 grade point average and went on to community college—changes Akana attributes, in part, to the ministry.
Each session ends with a coach reading Scripture, a prayer, a devotional or some other kind of positive thought, Akana says.
“God and the Holy Spirit will plant the seed,” Akana says. “It may be a word or it may be a workout that is the seed. [The club] is not about building numbers in our church. We’re here to serve and let the Holy Spirit decide where the chips fall.”
Many churches have great teen programs – we would love to hear from you about how your church reaches out to the youth in your community.
An article about this ministry originally appeared in the September/October 2008 issue of Outreach magazine.
Each issue of Outreach is designed to bring you the ideas, innovations and resources that will help you reach your community and change the world.