When Should You Cancel Youth Group?

I remember when our youth ministry was launching a new type of event that we were really excited about. We had momentum online, my student core team told me about all their friends that were coming, and the event was an ace in the hole. And then it happened. Canadian winter.

Two hours before our event, the weather took a turn for this worse. Blanket snow storm. Now in my parts, the weather is crazy unpredictable. In a two-hour time frame you can go through all 4 seasons (not an exaggeration). So it’s always a challenge trying to make a decision about cancelling youth group over weather because things can change so quickly.

So I’m sitting at home in my gettin’-ready-for-youth-group chair and my wife comes home and confirms my deepest fear.

“BABE, YOU SHOULD CANCEL TONIGHT.”

Heart sunk.

We put so much effort into this night. It would’ve been a great opportunity to connect new students to our group. This was a perfect night to connect small group leaders and their few. It would be something our students would be talking about for months.

So the thought of cancelling was beyond frustrating.

So I called around to other staff members, key leaders, and parents to get their thoughts on cancelling. One phone call in particular made this difficult decision really easy. After explaining my dilemma the parent replied:

“WELL, I REALLY KNOW MY DAUGHTER REALLY WANTS TO GO, BUT I WOULD RATHER NOT DRIVE HER.”

Up until I had that conversation, I was thinking about how much we’d lose if we cancelled the event but I didn’t think about what we would gain if we cancelled.

By cancelling the event, the parents of our students would thank us.

By cancelling we would prevent arguments between a parent (who didn’t want to drive) and their teen (who didn’t care and wanted to go hang out with their friends anyway).

Yes our students would be disappointed. But our program isn’t as fragile as I was acting. The students would get over it.

If we decided to run the event we would’ve had some short-term wins. We would’ve had fun. We would’ve made memories. We would’ve connected with new students.

However, by cancelling we would gain one big long-term win.

Trust.

Whenever you have the opportunity to build trust and put relational change in your pockets with parents, jump on that! It’s pretty hard to minister to teens if their parents don’t trust you!

So when should we cancel our program? When parents get the win.