“Nothing happens until something moves.” Albert Einstein

Conferences are always mountaintop experiences.  Training, sessions, tracks for days…then the real work begins when you return home. Here a few things you can do to make your ministry move:

Do something new.  Do something you have never tried before.  Totally new.  Try something you believe will fail or seems non-relevant.  Who knows?  It might just work.

Do something different.  Make little changes. Normally break small groups into gender? Try it by grades, school, favorite subject, etc.  Write your message in your office?  Try a local coffee shop, at home, in your car, or at the mall. Present your message via video (edited/non-edited) or Skype in from a different location at the church or a local school.  Always have on-stage games? Try a group game.  Fully reliant on technology during your service?  Try a service that doesn’t use any computers, projectors, screens, or microphones.

Do something else.  This is a “totally different.”  Normally have small groups?  Do away with them for one month and replace it with baking cookies for the church nursery.  Maybe this is something you have done before and shelved it for some reason or another.  I always hold meetings somewhere else other than my office, but this week I asked everyone to come to my office.  This decision reaped huge dividends.  It was different, and shook the conversation up.

Nothing happens until something (or someone) moves, so go do something!

What can you do this week to make your youth ministry move?

Andrew Brashaw is a youth pastor of 8+ years in New Lothrop, MI.  He doesn’t blog or own an iPhone, but he does Twitter once a month @andrewbrashaw.

Have you ever walked into a place where you did not know anyone? Do you remember what you were thinking? Just imagine this story:

The day before Wednesday night, you were invited by a friend at school to come to church. Your friend even gave you an invite card with a cool design on it. Even though you aren’t a “church person” you decide to give it a try. Your Dad begrudgingly decided to take you but made a few comments on the drive. He said, “you know son, churches are all messed up, that is why I don’t go. I think it is good you are going but son, don’t get your hopes up, most of the those people are hypocrites anyway.” As he gets out of the vehicle, he quickly notices the buzz of people whizzing by. He sees people smiling. He watches adult leaders giving high-five’s and fist bumps. He is unsure. He thinks, “Is this church filled with uncaring people? What will happen when I walk in? Is my friend inside? I wonder where I will sit? I don’t have a Bible, I sure hope nobody calls on me to read or pray.” He decides to go for it. He walks in the door as an adult leader welcomes him with the love of Christ. He begins to wonder, “Will I belong here? Will I find people who truly care about my life?”

You see, this is a powerful moment. We must always think like this student. If we become too focused upon the status quo of the ministry, we can easily miss the people who walk in each week who need the love of Christ.
The key to building an environment of acceptance is by meeting people at their point of need. Each student who walks in the doors of the church is loved by God. Every student matters to Him so much that the heartbeat of the ministry should be to meet them with the unconditional love of Christ.

Here are a few steps we take on welcoming students:

First impressions. In the first 30 seconds of the student arriving, the goal is for a student to have some type of interaction. Any type of welcome (fist bump, high-five, kind word and smile) is huge to ease the pressure when each person enters.

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Intentional Conversations. Some students do not have quality conversations. The intermittent attention spans of students are a result of our media saturated culture. We should make it a priority to have face-to-face conversations with students in our ministries. One of the goals should be for each leader to have 2-3 quality conversations with students each time. Whether it is a few minutes or if a student is pouring their heart out, the importance of an encouraging conversation is the key to building an environment of acceptance.

No One is Isolated. Look out for students who tend to isolate themselves and try to sit by themselves. Lead students and volunteers to always be looking for opportunities to build relationships with other students, especially those who are new.

Greeting team: We include a grade per month to come early and help the adult greeters welcome students. They help pass out information and encourage people as they enter. Each student has a name tag with “greeter” on the lanyard as well as adult volunteers.

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New students: They will receive a Source tube filled with random candy as a gift as they arrive. Inside of the tube also has a wooden coin. The coin has our logo and it is a $1 token towards the café.

Once a student has visited, I send out our first time guest postcard with a personal note thanking them for being our guest and some encouragement. On the postcard there is a note for them to bring back to receive a free Source Student Ministry t-shirt!

What tips do you have on welcoming students? Add to the conversation below in the comments!

Josh Robinson is a the Pastor to Students at Church @ The Springs, a husband and a father. Check out his blog at joshrobinson.cc or follow him on Twitter: @josh_robinson



We all are called to a mission greater than ourselves. “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:31) Our love should reach out to our neighbors and in turn, reach the world. But how do we get this message out to our kids? We can start by being an example, and then bring awareness of their neighbors to them and make a difference.

Be the example
Kids and even people in general, learn the most when watching. Show them what a true neighbor looks like. A neighbor includes: family, friends, those placed in authority, and even enemies. As an example, we should go out and choose to love our neighbors regardless of how they choose to treat us. When our neighbor gives us a dirty look, look back with loving eyes. When the elderly man who is constantly grumpy and speaks negatively towards you drops his cane, pick it up for him. By planting seeds of love in your neighbor’s heart, you are planting seeds of love in the hearts of the kids you minister to.

Bringing awareness
What is going on with your neighbor? Are they in pain? Are they in a time of need? Have they just made a big accomplishment in their life and want someone to celebrate with? You can make your kids aware of their neighbors by involving them. When your neighbor is in pain, have the kids make a card for them and take a small group of kids to their house to pray over them. When your neighbor is in a time of need, have your kids host a fundraiser for them if funds or needed or grab a group of kids to clean your neighbor’s home if they are depressed and their home is a mess. When your neighbor needs someone to celebrate with, involve the kids in planning a surprise party for them.

Make a difference
As you involve the kids and bring awareness to them, their creative juices start flowing and their desire to love their neighbors will significantly increase! Looking for ways to reach out to their neighbors will become natural to them and they will make a difference in their communities and have the means to change the world!

Get out into your community with the kids God has placed under you and show them what it truly means to love your neighbor. Lives will be changed and hearts will be filled with the love of God because you chose to make a difference!

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

Leadership continues to be one of the hot topics in the church today. Now more than ever before we are seeing books, seminars and coaching sessions revolving around leadership. My hope of writing this series of blog posts isn’t to bring anything new to the table; rather I want to share with you what in my opinion are four non-negotiable aspects of Christian leadership.

When I was in Bible College we took a trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains for a backpacking trip. There were 27 of us in total: 20 students, 4 teachers, and 3 guides. Our goal was to backpack from one side of a mountain pass to the other in 3 days. Before we set out from basecamp we took a vote to choose two students from our group and make them trip leaders. The role of the trip leader was to join the guides in learning navigation and group leading skills. The ‘trip leaders’ were also in charge of choosing when to stop for the night and when to take meals etc. I was selected along with a girl named Courtney. We were chosen because each of us had experience from spending time in the outdoors and we knew how to read maps and use a compass. Off we went for three days; everything went great until the end of the second day when we decided to push forward so we could have a more relaxing third day. A problem arose as we headed towards our last camp we pushed the team too far. We didn’t listen to the fact that everyone was too tired and didn’t want to press on. In the end we had a group of tired and grumpy people; tears were shed, words exchanged and people were just downright miserable.

Fast-forward two years, and I am leading a trip of 16 teens as a guide. We have been pushing forward for a couple days straight and have to choose where to make camp for the night. I turn to my friend and co-guide and we start to decide whether we should push it or just take it easy for the end of the day. Suddenly I stop; it hits me that this could be a complete do-over of my Bible School trip. So I turn to the campers and ask them for their opinion, they leave it up to us guides but I can tell by their reaction that we should take it easy and stop short.

Making the decision to stop was one of the best decisions I could have made on that trip, and to be honest I almost didn’t make the right decision. But I took hold of a lesson I had learned in the past and put it into practice.

There are a number of instances in the Bible where we see God, teaching leaders to become learners. We can see examples in the life of Moses and the life and teachings of Jesus.

Moses was stubborn; God gave him numerous chances to really rely on Him; and Moses pushed back against God over and over. In the end it was his refusal to open his eyes to what God was showing him that prevented Moses from entering the Promised Land. On the flip side we see Jesus; fully God and fully man; even went through a period of growing in wisdom (Luke 2:52). We also learn from the parable of Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27) that God will give us a little bit to start and if we are faithful and learn from that, we will be blessed with more.

What are some ways that you are learning?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle



This is a “labor of love” that began almost 5 years ago.  As I (Leneita) worked as the training coordinator for Urban Youth Workers Institute I began to have the opportunity to travel the country and meet national leaders.  The organization focused on small conferences at the time resourcing those serving youth in “inner city settings.”  (This is how Jeff and I met.) Through a series of events  I was asked to speak and train in some suburban and rural church’s during this time. Meeting those around the country who served youth in a variety of settings I began to hear a common theme.  Students and families were “stuck” in a survival mindset.  ”Social Ills”  that had been seen as challenges for the city setting were seeping into every corner of our society.  Fatherlessness, drugs,  and even gangs were everywhere.  In short the “other side of  the tracks,” seemed to no longer hold boundaries.  It was at that moment this book began writing itself in my heart.

As Jeff and I got to know each other we found we were seeing the same things,  asking the same questions and having the same conversations with youth workers around the country.  Discussing it we found more and more in the church were wondering how to reach and engage these “survival mindset” families.  We knew this conversation needed to be opened,  and resources provided for those working with these students.  With the “urban” areas growing around the world,  we would argue there isn’t one church who doesn’t have at least one family in this position in their congregation or youth group.

That is why we wrote:

Everybody’s Urban: Understanding the Survival Mindset of the Next Generationeverybody 2

Synopsis:

The word “urban” seems simple to define—but “urban teenager” is anything but simple to understand and explain. Even if you’re a youth worker in rural Kentucky or suburban California, you have urban students in your midst. The days of identifying and labeling our teenagers based on where they live, what they wear, or the color of their skin are gone. Today, everybody’s urban.

More and more teenagers are stuck in survival mode, unable to see beyond today. Their dreams have been stolen, and they’ve given up on ever recapturing them.

But veteran youth pastors Jeffrey Wallace and Leneita Fix know there’s hope. Everybody’s Urban is infused with their hard-won insights into the urban youth experience, along with dozens of real-world strategies for ministering to today’s teenagers.

We invite you to join us in the conversation.  We challenge you to learn those that are in the midst.  Learn more about the “Survival mindset” and the “levels of urban,”  in our short video HERE!

Want to get ahold of the book ?  Purchase HERE

Want to talk more about ways to go deeper?   Contact Us!

Girl Talk

Neely McQueen —  March 14, 2013 — 2 Comments

In the past week, I have gotten to talk with two groups of girls only. (At a local school and in our own ministry.)

My heart is always filled with love and with the weight of this special opportunity to speak to girls only about life as a girl.

Here’s a link to the video of my teaching at the school.

 

Here are the points from my message for our students:

The Lies We Believe

Our Bodies Define Us

Our Worth is Determined by the Opposite Sex

The Lies We Believe Imapct the Lives we Live (Romans 12:1-2)

How to Transform our Minds?

  1. Get a View of God’s Mercy (See yourself as He Sees You)
  2. Walk in His Purpose for You (Find your Worth in His Calling)

 

We followed it up with small group time. Below were the questions we provided our leader:

1. What are some ways I have defined myself by my appearance/body?

2. How is that harmful to myself and others?

3. What is one thing that I love about myself? Physically? Beyond my body?

4. What is one thing I can intentionally do next week to see myself and others as more than just a body?

 

I was so thankful for our night with just the ladies!

What are other ways we can encourage these conversations with our girls?

 

 

 

 



hurt

(Courtesy of Postsecret)

Everyday we get to work with students who are doing alright. They are surviving and in some cases even thriving. They treat people kindly…they are doing “all the right things.”

Unfortunately, that is not the case for all the students we interact with in our ministries. They are hurting from broken homes, unsafe environments at school and sometimes they are in even in pain because of what happens in our student rooms.

Hurt people hurt people.

A cycle of pain begins that sometimes ends in the saddest way when a student no longer feels that life is worth living.

This year alone from the schools that are represented in our church we have lost 7 students to suicide. (I can’t even write that number without feeling a deep sadness.)

This last week a young girl took her life. She was bullied online before she took her life and much to my dismay she was bullied online for her death. Her friends set up a Facebook in her honor after her death and people felt like they could continue to say hurtful things about her on the page.

The kids are not alright. They are hurting and they are inflicting pain on others. And now more than ever they have unlimited ways to inflict that pain on others.

What can we do as the church:

Make sure church is safe. Our student rooms and our events should be safe. There is no place for hurtful words and for exclusive behaviors in our ministries. Communicate the value…and model it. Be mindful at the big events. Be careful of even teasing…some kids, especially girls can’t take the jokes.

Educate parents. An educated parent can best care for and protect their children. Talk to them about the trends online. Create a list for them of all the different modes of social media (Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram…) If you see something online that is happening to a particular student, make sure you reach out to their parent. When you reach out to them…make sure you have a list of resources where they can get help for their sons and daughters.

Train up advocates. What if our students became the ones who stood up for those who were getting bullied? Imagine if our students rallied around the ones who feel alone and hopeless. I believe that lives could be changed…lives saved. I believe our ministries could be changed as we begin to  reach kids who who have no hope become kids filled with the hope of Jesus. Let’s teach our students to be watchful, to be encouragers and to be advocates who put a stop to bullying by being peacemakers.

The kids are not alright but Jesus is alive in us and in our students. And because of that we have hope…and they can hope. Praying that our ministries break the cycle of pain for the students in our ministries and in our communities.

What are ways that you care for the hurting in your communities?

 

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Just finished reading Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley – easily one of the best books for church leaders of this generation. I loved the candid discussions about the history of North Point Ministries and then a full disclosure about the how and why they do what they do at their church. It was incredible getting an inside look into their values, the vagueness of leadership and blessing that God has given to that church. Couple things really stood out to me:

  • A couple times I immediately bristled at what he wrote – then Andy promptly called me out for it in the next sentence. Loved it.
  • They don’t have it all figured out, which is true of everyone but refreshing to hear!
  • As a leader, Andy constantly stands in the tension of going where the Bible goes and stopping where it doesn’t. Not afraid to tell the truth, not afraid to back away from things we have turned into “truth”
  • The church being a movement … that is an exciting way to see it. Not a building, not people, but a movement.

The books feels like another important book for the church to process as we unapologetically seek and to save the lost. I want to create the type of church!

JG