Monday, May 30, 2011

It's SHO-Time!

SHO-Time, Olive Garden Style!
One of the most popular ideas I ever came up with for my student ministries was called SHO-Time (Senior High Only).  The origin was simple enough.  For most of my 28 years as a youth pastor our high school students and middle school students met together on Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights.  I wanted to begin doing some special programming that would allow each of those groups to do things on their own.  SHO-Time was a no-brainer.  I just picked a night and a restaurant and invited our high school students to meet me there, or to meet at the church if they need a ride.  I began the program in 1988; it was still going strong at a 5th different church when I left the ministry in 2007. 

Although SHO-Time began as a once-a-month school year event, it was also a staple of our summer programming.  The laid back, no school limits atmosphere of summer allowed us to visit restaurants that were farther away or required more time to eat.  We always tried to alternate the more expensive places with cheaper ones to keep things affordable.  And during the summer we would often find ways to hang out after the meal, whether by going back to the church or out to a movie or miniature golf.  It just made for another awesome night of fellowship. Plus, it is a wonderful event in which to include your family.  My son Will grew up thinking every kid got to eat out with awesome high school students like he did!

SHO-Time can be easily adjusted to fit your group's needs.  If you already split high school and middle school students, then you could use it to do something special for your 11th and 12th graders.  It's just a great way to do something new for your older youth- and their friends! This is another simple program that attracts new kids like flies to a smelly church van.  It will also give you a good reason to come up with creative ideas to make everyone else in your youth ministry feel special too!

One final note about SHO-Time (and this is HUGE):  No matter if there is only 1 student who shows up, NEVER cancel it.  You can't make anyone feel important if the message you send is, "Just you is not enough."  It's all about relationships, not numbers.

So try SHO-Time at your church, and enjoy!  Check back tomorrow and I'll tell you all about The Chain of Prayer- the best way to start a summer!


  1. My two have great memories of this!! They even kept it up after you left!! They all met at Kado's once or twice a month. They were like family to the Kado staff!!! When we went in there after Bean left for College they would all want to know how she was doing. Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. That's great to hear, Gastlers! I have great memories with Christine and Jen at Kado and Olive Garden. Always knew your girls would show up with friends when we went to Olive Garden! :)


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