On Wednesdays after school, middle school students from Horizon Middle School in Bismarck, North Dakota, wander over to Legacy United Methodist Church to connect and learn. In the past few months, new students have continued to visit youth ministry at Legacy UMC, because they were invited to be part of Wednesday Workshops.
“We found that some students wanted something to do before our Wednesday night programming started, “said Vicky Vetter, Student Ministry Director at Legacy UMC. “We wanted to connect them to an activity where they could learn and connect with one of our members willing to share a talent.”
Vetter asked congregation members if they would be willing to provide time on Wednesday for a workshop where middle school students could learn a skill or assist with a task. Several people responded.
When students arrive on Wednesday from the middle school just a few blocks away, they can choose from these workshops: worship team, kitchen team, gardening, technology team, crafts—crocheting, wrapping a present, holiday decorating, and Bible study.
“It truly is rewarding to see the volunteers working with the middle school students,” said Vetter. “We have seen passions develop and relationships blossom.”
One workshop has led to another opportunity. Students who participated in gardening last spring and summer will be selling the seeds from the garden this spring.
The kitchen workshop has helped one middle school student form a special relationship with the person who oversees Wednesday night meals. “When we started, the person in charge of making Wednesday night meals was hesitant about how much help a middle school student could be in the kitchen,” said Vetter. “Now that student has become a great help, and both are passionate about what they do.”
Middle school students can present challenging behaviors. However, when invited to be part of something where they can make a difference, middle schoolers can make an impact.
“We went from what felt like babysitting to involving the students in helpful ways in ministry. We are finding it as a welcoming atmosphere. It is easier for someone to bring a friend to church, and that friend can connect with some workshop or task,” said Vetter. “We are seeing about a dozen middle school students in the after school workshops each week, growing to about 30 attending Wednesday nights. We have seen new visitors in youth group continuing.”
Miranda Vetter, a middle school student and Vicky’s daughter, finds that the workshops are a great way to try out various ministries and activities at the church. “I am part of the worship team on Wednesday. I like it because it is a smaller group. I feel comfortable trying things out with the Wednesday night worship team. It isn’t as big of a deal as Sunday worship.”
The Wednesday Workshops received funding from a Breakthrough Ministry Grant. The grant helped to purchase supplies for the various workshops, including an acoustic drum set for the Wednesday worship team.
Breakthrough Ministry Grants are offered to churches and related organizations from the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation and Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Grants will be awarded quarterly as seed money to launch new ministries or expand an existing ministry. Applications for the 2023 first quarter grants are being accepted through January 31, 2023. Learn more about Breakthrough Ministry Grants here.