"The Tribe13 Experiment"

A true story about a different kind of youth group
by Neil MacQueen

See the UPDATED VERSION of this article at our new site:





This is the story about my efforts to create a different kind of "youth group" at my church. The names of the church, kids and leaders have been changed.

The Tribe13 Experiment grew out of my 25+ years experience and insights in youth ministry and family ministry. The "Experiment" sought to overcome many of the chronic problems and unmet goals of traditional children and youth ministry. And it sought to re-invent our Confirmation experience in the process.

Tribe13 in a sentence: We took 2 grades of kids and formed them into a group starting with they were young, and we kept them together with the same leaders to be a family-oriented fellowship that grew up together. More about that in this article!

To the Tribe13 kids, leaders, and parents, the group was a great success. Many goals were met, we became close, the parents were very appreciative, and attendance stayed strong. I was a Presbyterian minister serving as a volunteer in the congregation, my 'full-time' ministry being what you see before you at sundaysoftware.com.

Change is not easy. Not every member or staff person at my church understood what we were trying to do. Some didn't understand what we were trying to achieve, and a few didn't appreciate how our approach "critiqued" traditional approaches (which some of them had worked in over the years). Some probably felt threatened by ideas and our success. Some just gave mixed messages and qualified support.  Our Tribe13 "experiment" ended in 2007 after a very successful seven year run. The church was struggling with some dysfunctional behavior and leadership, -and it came to a head in 2007, --sending my family and several others towards the exit doors. That's part of the story here too: that innovative ministry is challenging enough without external issues making it harder!


Read the full article at our new site: www.sundaysoftware.com/site/tribe13