One of the most difficult questions to answer as a youth minister is:

What would your community look like if your ministry did not exist?

The devil whispering in my ear wants to say, “It would look the same as it does now.”  That’s doubt, and the evil one making sure I believe that my ministry is not having any effect at all.  The way I combat the insecurities that come from negative thoughts is by focusing on the youth ministry’s vision.

With vision your ministry has purpose; however, it’s not as simple as just writing one out.  Your vision has to answer the question, “Why does your youth ministry exist?”  and then you have to answer that question with your strategies and mission.  But, the way your vision is really going to take life, is if you make it a priority by:

  • Knowing It Well: In order to achieve big vision you need to believe in it.  That means memorizing and repeating it.  There’s not point to just having a statement, it needs to be the very essence of why you exist.
  • Making It Visible: Big vision is accomplished when it becomes contagious.  Share it in messages, emails, meetings and announcements.  Make it visible for parents, teens, church members and most importantly your volunteers.  People will invest in a ministry with vision because they see it has a purpose.
  • Celebrating It Widely: When you see moments of your vision accomplished celebrate them like a mini win.  Not only will this bring team unity, but enthusiasm around the process.  The more you celebrate your progress the more momentum you bring to the movement.
  • Using It As A Measurement Tool: Utilize the vision as a way to determine whether or not you are succeeding.  This means examining what you do and asking yourself, “How does this fulfill the vision?” If it doesn’t tweak the component or get rid of it completely.  Use your vision as a way of measuring success.

 

Big vision means big risks, big challenges and big results.  If you can rally your troops around the vision of the ministry nothing will stop you.  To obtain the best vision spend time with God, ask Him for guidance and then unleash it.  There is no better joy than seeing God’s vision come to life.

How do you make your vision big?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

relationship_panel

Weekend Teaching Series: Crazytown (series finale, week 3 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Ask anything to our relationship panel
Service Length: 75 minutes

Understandable Message: This week we deviated from our normal weekend and hosted a relationship panel with married couples and single people to help talk about guys, girls, relationships and sex. We had a great time at each service answering the students’ challenging question. The number one question was “how far is too far” and there were lots of asks about boundaries, virginity and secrets to make relationships work. It was super insightful, everyone was great and gave solid answers to many tough questions.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had several fun videos for the weekend including a summer camp promo video, a hilarious slam poetry of a Taylor Swift song (Never Getting Back Together), and a new relationship and dating advice video from new characters Papa Cool and Mama Love. So so fun and a strong program!

 Music Playlist: What Would I Have Done, The Earth is Yours

Favorite Moment: I loved it all! So thankful for the incredible panelists who were honest about their failures, struggles and stories dealing with love, marriage and sex. What a great series to round out the school year. Loved it!

Up next: Worship Together Weekend: June (1-off)



Fun video to wrap up our Crazytown series in HSM this past week – these two characters, Papa Cool and Mama Love have been introduced in some print pieces and handouts before, but never seen on video. Fun, obviously tongue-in-cheek video!

JG

From time to time I hear youth workers lament that they need to take care of certain things that they don’t care about al all – but things their supervisor values.

They begrudgingly do this punch list of stuff only because they have to. Filling out that report, keeping the database up to date, attendance stuff, pastoral care logs – all of the mundane stuff of ministry that can wear a person down and make them wish for the days when they actually did minister to students.

Let me let you in on a little tip: if you don’t value what your boss values, you’re not going to last long at your church. Sure, you may get lucky and the boss ends up leaving in the next year instead of you, but chances are you’ll be the one looking up open youth ministry position’s in your spouse’s hometown.

So value what your boss values! If he or she asks you for the most mundane reports in the world … spend some serious time on them and make them great. Do what is required, and add in some additional detail they might find interest in, too. Not sure what they value? Take them out to lunch and find out! There’s a chance you’re wasting a lot of time on things that don’t matter to them at all or ignoring important tasks they are dying for you to pick up!

I’ll be back with more boss tips throughout the week – from successes and failures in my own ministry career. Some from as recently as last week! Argh.

Your turn: share one helpful boss tip in the comments now, too!

JG



Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart/2137729748/

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart/2137729748/

It happened for the first time about 15 years ago.  I asked some of my HS Seniors what their plans were for the following year.  Throughout the year they gave me names of colleges they were applying to, and vague ideas of what beyond High School looked like for them.  Graduation day came and went, and they did not head off for college.  They had never even applied. It happens for a variety of reasons,  however,  there comes a time when not every graduating senior “leaves the nest.”    Instead,  while friends leave,  they are left behind wondering, “What’s next?”   Perhaps, they “get a job.”   However,  both of you suspect “youth group” isn’t an option in the Fall.  Should they just show up at the “young adults” ministry?

How do we help in this life transition that may not feel so natural?

1.  Encourage Them:

Some students stay behind with a plan.  In my observance unless this includes moving out of their house,  they usually are floundering around a little.  First of all let them know they are NOT a failure.  Help them think through what they might want to give back to this world.  Have they ever thought through the reality that the Lord has a purpose and a plan with them?  They are feeling like they just “can’t get it together,” even if they aren’t acting like it.  Simply pray, love and put an arm around them.

2.  Dream With Them:

This is the time of life when you are forced to figure out “what you want to be when you grow up.”   Yet, they may not really have a clue.  Help them think through their dreams and passions.  A great place to start is the “Chazown” website HERE.  Craig Groeschel wrote a book by the same name, based on the Hebrew word for “dream, revelation or vision.”  This gives someone practical steps to walk through figuring out what the Lord’s idea for your life might be.

3.    Plan With Them

Come along side the student (and the parents if needed) and help with some next steps.  No one wants life to “happen” to them.  You know look over your shoulder in 20 years with no skill set,  and no purpose.   Do they need to take a year and perhaps work with a missions organization like  YWAM?  Youth With A Mission offers three months of training in a “DTS” (discipleship training school) followed by three months of missions, literally in locations ALL over the world.  Do they want to learn a skill or trade that needs training in somewhere other than a traditional college setting?  What are the next steps to get to their future?  What is needed?

4.  Transition Them:

Typically when someone “goes” to college you find a church and/or Christian organization where you begin your “grown up faith.”  If your church is near a school you understand this.  A student that has stayed they is wondering what to do now in every area.  Should they leave church? Help them with the process of  becoming a “young adult.”  If your church doesn’t have a special group like this,  let them know where they fit into the church.  Try growing them into a leadership role.  Just remember as they are grappling with their future the last thing they need to lose is fellowship.

The most important thing we can do for the students who don’t “go,” is to be there with them.  Often times these youth just need a little extra support  and a push for a small while.  However,  it is easy for them to simply step off the radar due to embarrassment on their part.  Tell them while they may be figuring things out for now,  they are not lost.

 

cracratown

We just finished up one of my favorite HSM series of recent times – Crazytown! It was a 3-week series on guys, girls, relationships and sex. I was super excited about this one, here’s the series arc to give you an idea of where we took students this past month:

Week 1: 5 Things Girls Wish Guys Knew
Most guys are clueless when it comes to girls. What would it look like if we combined learnings from a focus group of girl students and mashed it up with my experience as a pastor and what God’s Word teaches into one message to guys. So this is the week where we take on guys from a girls’ perspective. This was a fun talk to give for the girls to look for and the boys to become.

Week 2: 5 Things Guys Wish Girls Knew
Ladies, if you want to know what guys really wish you knew about relationships and sex, this is it! I sat down with some guys and discuss their loves, pet peeves and overall thoughts about girls and once again take on a Biblical perspective on what a godly woman looks like. This is a powerful week to challenge both guys and girls!

Week 3: The “Ask Anything” Relationship Panel
SEX! Now that we have your attention, we are going to be talking about relationships and sex. We brought in some amazing and brave people who have been through thick and thin of relationships, the good, bad and ugly for you to ask them questions about relationships and sex.

JG



Fun little video from this weekend in our series, Infinite Reasons to Go to HSM Summer Camp.

JG

firepit

Above is a picture of our brand new fire pit. Instead of buying one “off the shelf” at Lowe’s, we went all in. We dedicated 1/3 of our back yard to a large (5′ diameter) fire pit with room for a dozen people to encircle. The idea was simple: We live in a small house with very little extra space for conversation, so let’s create an outdoor “great room” of sorts.

Last night, our teenage son and 8 of his friends broke it in. They hung out around the fire pit for a couple hours talking, laughing and burning things. Somehow, the fire pit created an atmosphere that made them way more open to conversation….with each other and with my son’s dorky middle-aged parents.

It got me thinking about junior high ministry, and the environments we create (or fail to create) to help foster conversations. The obvious answer is to to grab the old faded plaid couch in the corner of your youth room, move it to the center and torch the sucker! Trust me, that would get your kids talking! And it will get you fired. So the second best idea is to simply ask yourself, “How might we create ‘fire pit’ environments in our junior high ministry that would create more natural opportunities for conversations?”

To get you started, here are some thoughts about creating “fire pit environments” in your ministry:

- A warm, friendly feel.
- conversations are welcome, but not forced….they flow naturally.
- laughter is a value.
- Physical comfort. So don’t burn the old faded plaid couch, find MORE of them.
- Create a sense of relaxation…unhurried feeling.
- An environment where everybody’s voice matters.

As you head into Summer, it’s the perfect time to build a fire pit atmosphere in your junior high ministry!