3rd Rant about Youth Ministry? UGLY youth rooms. Stinky, moldy, trashed up rooms where nothing ever gets put away – much less dusted. And oh the paint colors!!

Had an interesting convo with a YP friend of mine while working with her on a YMA assessment this weekend. Sarah told me how she’d made the mistake of letting her students pick the paint colors. Her heart was in the right place…but it didn’t work out so well. “It looked awful. Even the kids thought it looked terrible. No one wanted to meet in there.”

Oh, the UGLY rooms I’ve seen while traveling for youth ministry stuff. Here’s the tip: Don’t let your students decorate the room anyway they want!!! Don’t let them pick the colors (at least by themselves). Don’t allow just any old couch to spend its final resting place in your youth room.

Here’s why: a tastefully decorated room – like something from Starbucks meets Jesus meets Panera’s – is a “friendship factor” tool. If your youth room is classy, cool and cozy – ur students will be proud to show their friends.

Just sayin’ from experience.

Every series we do our best to take students on a content arc – I call it the series arc of content. You can read some of the previous ones from our Q series, Summer Road Trip and Save the Planet. Here’s the series arc for our next series: The Real Jesus.

Week 1 – Jesus: Life and Ministry
This coming weekend I’ll be sharing some of the misconceptions of Jesus and in particular one of the events from the life of Christ: Jesus and the 10 Lepers. I hope to demonstrate why Jesus came to earth an our response to His mission. The heart of the message is thankfulness, and will include a clear Gospel presentation.

Week 2 – Jesus: His Death
Next week Doug Fields is talking about the last days of Jesus and the importance of those events to humanity past, present and future. If the message ends with a cliffhanger and encourages students to attend Easter weekend for the rest of the story, that would be great.

Week 3 – Jesus: His Resurrection (Easter Sunday)
Easter weekend is one of the 2 times a year we don’t have youth services! Which could be perfect for this series – our series of messages will end with the Pastor Rick adult messages to our whole church. Our hope is everyone worships together in the main services, and that our many non-churched parents would come for the first time as well.


Youth Ministry 360 has a new free Easter lesson available for free this week – if you’ve used any of their stuff before (and be sure to check out their store of great resources as well) you’ll know this is probably a solid lesson for you to use in the season around Easter. Check it out if you’re looking for something for this season!


Posted by Scott Rubin

“The Future of Youth Ministry” is super-interesting to me, even though I realize that none of us has a crystal ball. And I also know that people far smarter than me have astute observations of realities that will effect what the next few years may hold. But I was talking recently with some middle school youth workers about the “practical” future of middle school ministry — and how some of our observations may effect junior high ministries in the next few years. Here are 2 thoughts I’ve been having about the future of middle school ministry, although there are certainly so many more.

1- I’m seeing more & more special needs kids come into our ministry … and I need to be better equipped to serve them. I’ve only done a small amount of research on this, so I can’t speak with authority on whether the prevalence of challenges like autism have actually increased, or whether awareness has increased the number of diagnoses. Either way, as I talk to other junior high youth workers, it seems that lots of us are seeing more students entering our ministries with these unique challenges. I, for one, need to be better prepared to serve families of students with special needs… which also means that I need more volunteers!

2- The increasing presence of gay & lesbian issues in our culture effects junior high students more than ever before. Let’s be honest… when you’re 12 years old, “sexually awkward” is completely normal! And that’s mostly because as puberty begins, kids begin to discover the wondrous migration of what it means to be a sexual being. Not to mention that a middle schooler’s rate of sexual development somehow always seems to be either much faster, or much slower, than their closest friend. It’s enough of a challenge to help junior highers understand that they are created as sexual beings, along with all of the implications Mark 10:6-9. But as awareness of homosexuality increases, and younger & younger kids are exposed to this reality, I feel like I need to address this in ways that I used to leave to our high school ministry to handle. I’m not sure how that’s going to play out!

What do you see, as you look into the future of Junior High Ministry?

Weekend Teaching Series: You Own the Weekend: Celebration (bonus week 6 of our 5-week series)

Sermon in a Sentence: Unity is the key to unlocking the power of the church.
Service Length: 62 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend students from all of the different school (excluding the top 5 schools that each had a weekend service of their own) combined forces to pull off the finale weekend of the You Own the Weekend completely student-run services. They did a fantastic job this week using a combination of student testimonies, a spoken word piece, music and a solid skit. It was a great effort and I wrapped up the message of unity with an 8-minute video on the subject with both a look back at the series and a look ahead to what was next.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: The weekend had awesome decorations and an amazing group of students welcoming at the door and in the crowd. Giant UNITY letters across the stage, great energy when you walked into the room. It was a very fun weekend of student involvement, and a very positive environment.

Music Playlist: The Cave [Mumford & Sons cover], Rise and Sing, Take It All

Favorite Moment: I watched this weekend as one particular student got up from her seat with her regular friends in the first few minutes of the service and went to sit with another girl who was completely alone in the row in front of her. It was an incredible moment, our student leader had no idea she was being watched and was an incredible servant. Love it!

Up Next: The Real Jesus [series premiere, week 1 of 3]

I like celebrating moments in a life of a teenage girl…I think these little or big moments give us another chance to tell them how great we think they are and how great they can be.

My list of potential moments and little ideas:

Birthdays. Card/cupcake or favorite snack.

Getting their permit or driver’s license- Key chain and a note

Braces on/off- Packs of hubba bubba and a note

First day of school- Pencils or other fun school supplies with a note

Last day of school- journals for the summer and camps

Extra Curricular events- Cheer banners made with candy bars…Your worth 100 Grand!!

Are there other moments that we can be celebrating? Do you have a fun little things that you love to give each of your girls? Share your ideas!!!

This weekend we wrapped up the You Own the Weekend series in HSM – here is the video calling for unity at the end of the series, preparing us for what God would do with a student ministry TOGETHER committed to Him. Had some fun with the teaching time in this one, I think it was pretty fun.


If there was one skill that I have grown into in the past year, its been calling students out. Calling them out for their actions, the words, their apathy, their judgment or just plain attitude. I love my students whole-heartedly, but there comes a time when I need to be the leader and not a friend and have a tough conversation with a student. How you handle these conversations can determine if they leave feeling loved or condemned and can dictate if they are going to stay or leave your group. Here is the way that teach our team to have these chats, its called “The Rebuke Sandwich” …

Slice 1 – Pull the student you need to talk to aside, away from their friends. Now before they know what hit them, affirm them! It could be a simple as the fact that you value the fact they attend, or it could be that you see leadership potential in them. Be sincere and truthful, but starting with something you appreciate about them is very disarming and will allow step two to happen much easier.

The Meat- Tell them what it is you are concerned about or which action or behavior needs to be addressed. Be factual and honest, this is the meat of the conversation so be sure that you are prepared with exactly what has spurred this conversation. This is the tough part because when students and people in general get called out, our pride is hurt and we get defensive, this could cause tears or anger or both. But no matter what happens, don’t pull the chute here or let them pull the chute on the conversation until you get through step three.

Slice 2 - Now its time to affirm them again, this is the most important part because they are likely feeling wounded or hurt, but they need to know they are loved. This is the step that shows them that despite the fact that you needed to speak to them about their behavior, it is truly in love that you are doing it when you can build them up after calling them out. Once again, it’s an affirmation that is sincere and truthful that could highlight a gifting you seen in them. **If you are a hugging youth group, now is the time.

The Rebuke sandwich is an effective tool for confronting to students because it builds them up, shows them what needs to change, and reminds them of your care for them. Confronting students is not easy or fun to do but having an honest conversation one on one is important and above all Biblical. I have found time and again that using the “Sandwich” can be very effective at resolving an issue and restoring the Pastor-student relationship quickly.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.