2012 was a great year. Filled with lot of great highlights in ministry…and here at MoreThanGossip.com.

Before we move on to the new year, I thought I would reflect on the last year.

LOOKING BEHIND

My personal favorites from last year:

Modest is Hottest

Well…

Away She Goes (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

No Purple Ministry

Beyond Their Years

 

There is a lot of other good stuff out there- here are a few of my favorite blog posts from the interweb:

Sarah Bessey- In Which I Commission You

Rachel Held Evans- God Can’t Be Kept Out-

Rachel Held Evans- Enough

Amanda King- I am Beautiful, Girls

Josh Griffin-  Student Leadership

Brooklyn Lindsey- Holiness

Doug Fields- I am NOT a morning person

 

The list could go on and on. There is so much good stuff out there. What are you reading online? What’s your favorite blog?

 

LOOKING AHEAD 

I am excited about the year ahead. Lots of great stuff happening in ministry…on the blog and just in life. I am feeling excited about the blog and the potential for this new year. I am pledging to blog more and share more of what I am learning throughout the year. I hope you join me as we explore working with girls and I hope you will join in on the conversation!

Thanks for a great year!!

IMG_20130103_1015492013 is here, the youth ministry is just getting started, and in the lull of Christmas I was able to take some time to reflect on the year so far. In my office I have a wall that has a photo of almost all the students that are involved in our ministry. Its been up for two years now, and every week someone, without fail, sticks their head into my office and says something to the effect of just how encouraging it must be to look at all those faces.

Confession: It’s sometimes discouraging.

Its tough because there are faces of students that were connected, that were growing, that were falling in love with Jesus and through any number of circumstances have walked away. There are so many awesome and connected students up there, but the ones that have left are hard to see and it never seems to get easier. Some days I regret putting the pictures up because it would be so much easier for those students to be names on piece of paper in the back drawer of my desk, not a face on my wall. I pray for them, pray that they would get connected at our group again or another youth group and find an adult that wants to pour into their lives.

Watching students walk away never gets easy and as Pastors, the loss is often greater than just the student, as there is a always family behind that student who might be just as devastated that their child has chosen to disconnect from Church. It has been a source of tension in the past in our ministry as parents sometimes want to blame the youth ministry for the disconnect and  much like coach on a sports team, we often get too much credit when things are going well in a students life and too much blame when things go sideways.

My encouragement to you is that there will be those students for each of us but commit to praying for them, encouraging them if you happen to see them, and like the prodigal son’s father when his wayward son returns, run as fast as you can to welcome them home.

Geoff – Twitter geoffcstewart 



So how do you pick the title for a youth group sermon series? Great question! And while I suppose there are lots of ways to go about it – and I hope some others chime in on the comments with a few other suggestions – I thought I would walk you through some of the ways I go about picking the title for a youth group series:

Brainstorm with studentsA great way to pick a title is to gather up a few students or volunteers and walk them through the topic and come up with a list of potential titles. Make sure no one is “married” to their ideas, then land on one later that week. It gives students some buy into the process and also helps you brand it well.

Find inspiration in culture
One of my favorite examples of this was during the Women’s World Cup a couple years ago – I loved the subtitle they used “11 vs the World” and immediately planned a sermon series on the disciples around that idea. The series 11 vs the World in our youth group was a really fun one that was named really well, too (sorry Judas and even more apologies to Mathias the replacement disciple as well).

yhst-95977426524948_2239_10950023Tie it into the teaching
So sometimes the title starts the development process of the series – other times I wait and see where I want to take students and find the title as I prep the messages. I did a series a couple years ago about stewardship and the environment we ended up calling Save the Planet and let the teaching help us land on the right title.

Steal the title … or buy the resource and teach someone else’s series
If you see a great resource out there, borrow the title and adapt it yourself! You could also just buy the resource and use the ready-made graphics and outlines as well. Here’s 25 ideas to get you started, and 31 more when you’re through those!

How do you find the perfect series title!

JG

Go Back To The Basics

 —  January 3, 2013 — 2 Comments

When I was 9 years old I had to do a project on the Panama Canal.  The assignment was to write a 5 page paper that explained the history and structure of this modern wonder.  Let’s just say I took a simple assignment and made it complex, instead of 5 pages it ended up being 15.  When I handed in the project in it’s vinyl cover, I could tell my teacher was a little overwhelmed.  In the end I didn’t get the best grade because I failed to follow directions.

There are times when you will go over the top because you are either OVERLY PASSIONATE or INCREDIBLY STRESSED.  When your emotions gain control of your actions it’s easy to make what you do too complex.  This can cause:

  • Confusing Messages
  • Irrelevant Activities
  • Unclear Communication
  • Competing Systems

In other words it will water down your ministry and make it ineffective.  To avoid this you need to know the basics of your ministry.  That means knowing:

The Bottom Line: When delivering a message or an email you need to know what it is you are trying to say.  Take what you are trying to say and boil it down to one sentence.  Once you have that you can build on it; however, keep it clear.

What You Are Designed To Do: At the end of the day why does your ministry exist?  Answering this question will help you know the impact you are supposed to have on the students. Youth ministers can be lured into trying to be everything to anyone; however, God has given your ministry one purpose.  Focus on that purpose and you’ll see your ministry flourish.

Your Work Flow: A complex schedule will lead to overworking and exhaustion.  Creating a schedule and making to-do lists will help you sort out your day and tasks.  You’ll see what you are doing that isn’t necessary and what needs all your attention.  By prioritizing your work flow you’ll be able to build momentum and create more capacity in your life.

It’s easy to find ourselves in a complex ministry because you’ll be eager to impress students.  You’ll find yourself in situations when you want to say everything about a certain subject.  And then there will be seasons when Satan is attacking, making life confusing and when that happens it’s time to slow down.  Find a pace, ask God for guidance and go back to the basics.

Where else does ministry need to be more simple?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)



Thought that Greg Stier wrote a solid post to kickoff the New Year – here’s a clip from his post, 5 Reasons I’m Excited About Youth Ministry in 2013 that I think is worth the read:

1. A lack of budget triggers a more mature approach to youth ministry.
The value of a strained US economy is that smaller church offerings can lead to tighter youth ministry budgets. Before you call me crazy remember that a smaller youth ministry budget can lead to less goofiness and more seriousness when it comes to youth ministry programming. And that’s a good thing.

God has blessed me with the privilege of leading a ministry called Dare 2 Share for the last twenty years. We train teenagers to share their faith all across the country. Because much of our income is donor related when “The Great Recession” hit in 2008 we had to cut staff, slash programs and sharpen our focus. While these were challenging times God has used it in powerful ways to make us more serious and strategic about a much more singular mission. The same can happen for youth ministries that get their budget slashed. Sometimes a “fiscal cliff” becomes a bridge to a more mature approach to youth ministry. Less sizzle, more steak.

4. Youth ministry and family integrated ministry find their groove…together!
There is a battle in many churches over the role of the traditional youth ministry model and the family integrated model (moms and dads discipling their own children.) It seems to me that there is a “best of both worlds” solution that some youth ministries are starting to tap into. The power of parents leaning into the spiritual development of their own children combined with a setting where teenagers can relate to other teenagers spiritually could be the model that catapults youth ministry to the next level. The more spiritually mature adults who are willing to mentor their children/teens and other children/teens the better! This should happen at home and church! The youth leaders who are seeing the power of Titus 2 (older women mentoring young women/older men mentoring young men) should do nothing more than accelerate the mission of the youth leader and godly parents. Sure, there will still be the “our way is the only way“ people, but, most youth leaders should be able to merge the power of both approaches into their youth ministry models.

JG


Andrew suggested this week’s poll question: when and where do your small groups meet? Would love to know what you’re doing and help others get an idea about what’s out there, too! In my current ministry we have small groups during the week, unattached to a program. How about you? Vote now!

JG



Every once in a while someone asks me about strategies about blogging – to be honest I sort of made it up along the way but do have some pretty defined thoughts now having blogged nearly every day for 7 years. Thought I would take a moment and answer one of the more frequent ones: what is the strategy behind what you post, link to and point others toward? Here it is in what I would consider my as of yet unspoken 4 guiding principles:

Have content that is totally exclusive
People come to your blog for your voice – so give them what they want! The majority of the content and posts on your site should be from you and your ministry perspective. Stuff you’re learning, stuff you’re reading, stuff your failing at doing. Content from your context is the key – you want your site littered with content that you create people can’t get anywhere else.

Start a few blog “regulars”
I like to post a couple of regularly occurring volumes of posts that people can look forward to each week. I like to write about our weekend services with HSM’s Weekend in Review and posts polls weekly as well.

Point to stuff you wish you had written
Occasionally I’ll edit/paste an excerpt from a post that I read on another blog and point my readers that way. I try to do this a few times a week, it usually depends on the amount of content I have planned to go up on the site so that it feels balanced. My rule of thumb is that when something really resonates with me – it gets a nod on my blog so others can engage with that great content as well.

Endorse stuff you’re actually using in your ministryWrite reviews of products, tools and resource you are using in your ministry. Let other youth workers know what stuff is working and what isn’t. Help people that Google search for video curriculum know which ones they should choose, and which texting service is or isn’t worth the price of admission.

What’s your blog strategy?

JG

For a long time in our shared calling we’ve made a big deal about being a “youth ministry lifer” – someone who does youth ministry until they’re super old. There certainly was good reason for that when the average stay of a youth worker in a church was less than a year and people recklessly used the position as a stepping stone to become a real pastor.

But here’s what I started thinking this morning: we need more youth workers in other parts of the church, too. We need more youth workers to become senior pastors. We need more leaders of businesses, organizations and non-profits to think like and care like youth workers. Why do we guilt people into staying when God is calling them on? Maybe it is a good thing that many don’t stay in youth ministry their whole life – I just want them to still think, serve and love like a youth pastor when they move on.

I’m not planning on going anywhere – so you’re hearing this from the heart of a youth ministry lifer: if you’re dropping out of youth ministry, always be a youth pastor, even if you’re title changes a little bit.

JG