Posted by Kurt Johnston

1. Say Yes When They Ask For Your Help. We have all been taught that a key to time management is learning how to say NO. However, I think that when it comes to serving our volunteers we need to say YES whenever we can. Recently, one of our junior high small group leaders was taking his group of 7th grade guys on a little field trip to In N Out Burger and needed an extra driver. He probably could have called a parent to help, but he called me. I took the opportunity to say YES to his request. It was an easy thing to do, and I was actually fairly surprised at how meaningful it was to the leader.

2. Give Them Permission To Take A Break. Thank God for faithful volunteers! But sometimes your most faithful teammates are on the brink of burn out because they feel like the ministry can’t afford for them to take a week or two off, to skip an activity etc. Have a personal conversation with some of your most dedicated volunteers and ask them….no, TELL them….that you want them to take a week off every now and then.

3. Don’t Just Give Them A Break, Pay For It! In addition to giving them freedom to take a week off, give them a couple movie passes or a Starbucks card. Encourage them to actually use the gift during the time they would normally be serving. There is something really rewarding about sitting in a movie theater, or sipping a hot drink at the very same time you would normally be shushing students during bible study.

4. Ask Your Sr. Pastor To Brag On Them. Every now and then, give your Pastor the names of one or two of your leaders and ask him/her to pull them aside at some point and brag on them. Ask himher to say something like, “Joe, I was talking to (insert your name here) the other day, and he couldn’t quit talking about how thankful he is for your role in our junior high ministry. I just wanted to thank you for serving our teenagers.”

5. Remember The Little Things. Send an anniversary card. Call to wish them a happy birthday. Send their child a get well card when sick. Shoot an email congratulating them on their promotion. Remembering the little things makes a big impact.

When my little sister was three years old, she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Without hesitation she responded, “Beautiful.”

I’ve been hearing some great comments and questions about our just-finished You Own the Weekend series, thought I would post a few more answers and clarifications in case it is an idea that might be transferrable to your youth ministry setting. A couple years ago we posted a few different questions about the series idea, here’s a few more answers to the questions you asked this year:

How do you organize the students willing to help? This year we focused our organizational efforts almost entirely through Facebook. Students organized themselves online as well as had meetings in their school a few times leading up to their weekend, too.

Does each school have a point person they go to to organize the logistics of the weekend series? Yes, each week had an adult assigned to be their mentor to help guide them. The idea is that students do everything, but having a key volunteer/staff/intern guide them through unfamiliar processes (like printing the bulletin) and make sure they stay within acceptable youth ministry boundaries.

How do they volunteer, is everyone from the school able to participate? To what extent? A few leaders naturally rose up from each school, and helped determine each other students involvement. Without a doubt there are a few tensions and conflicts that arise, but that is a GREAT learning byproduct of the series. Usually students settle on who will do what, and there are many opportunities to serve in many different capacities.

How do you keep the school spirit side of it from creating division in the group? Great question! Without a doubt the excitement over someone’s school can actually hurt the unity of the student ministry. We took that into account and ended on a strong unity theme. I do think that students enjoyed coming to the other weekends, just to see how the other schools would do.

How do you keep the students from booing when a school is mentioned? This really happened and to be honest, I think as long as it is kept in check it is acceptable. I think there is a little friendly rivalry happening, but the positives outweigh the negatives.

Does creating an environment of healthy competition make the event more successful? It does. We were clear from the beginning that this was in no way a competition, but a little of that does surface during the series. Everyone tries to do their best, and usually weekends take on very different shape/tone from each other so it seems to work out.


This will be harsh but….YP’s that couldn’t possibly know everything they talk like they know about in YM. I mean, gee – especially the young ones who talk a big story but haven’t even been at one church long enough for a full YM cycle much less two.

On the other hand, I know lots of young YP’s that are smart and savvy, yet still know when to be quiet and listen. They don’t seem to need to name drop or brag. They don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re confident in who they are and what God is doing. They’ll get much farther ahead in YM than talk, talk, talk…

And don’t worry – I’m getting to the old ones next.

Doug Fields had a fantastic post over on his blog about criticism and an angry email that a parent sent a youth worker. Ever get one of those? Yeah, me too! The comments have been incredible, and at the very least you can commiserate in the community of those who have also received emails like this one. Here’s a clip of Doug’s post, head there for the rest and the comments for sure:

In the old days of ministry, if someone wanted to complain they would have to work a little harder than they do in today’s world. The ease of email gives a critical spirit an immediate outlet. I HATE getting emails like the one below, but they arrive all the time because email doesn’t allow a filter.

This specific email was sent to a youth pastor friend after an amazing weekend of ministry. He had a great service project on Saturday that was life-changing, and on Sunday Sunday morning his attendance doubled. His plan was to celebrate the weekend with a family BBQ. He bought enough food for all the regular attending teenagers and their families (plus a little extra). Praise God that a bunch of new people showed up and they ran out of food. Bummer. But, it’s not that big of a deal…to most.

Doug just posted a followup to his original post with 10 Ways I Deal With Criticism. His best blog post yet … if you haven’t subscribed yet, today is the day. Good, good stuff.


Snapshot Web and R04R are teaming up to give away iPad 2s and some pretty sweet and inexpensive mobile versions of your church website. Sounds like a pretty easy way to get a mobile version of your church/youth ministry website if you don’t have one already. Details on their site, or if you want to know how it works, you can ask for a tech demo, too. Interesting idea!

4 reasons you should get a mobile web app from SnapShot Web and R04R:

1. Your church goes with you wherever you go.
2. Your message goes with you wherever you go.
3. Your vision goes with you wherever you go.
4. You get a 1 in 20 chance to take an iPad 2 with you whever you go.

Here’s a video of what it looks like and how it works. Click full screen to see it up close!


This past week there has been some buzz on the internet about the recent weight loss of LeAnn Rimes. Many are claiming that she is battling with an eating disorder and she’s fighting back with words claiming that she is fine…with proof of all the unhealthy food she eats. She twittered about eating chick-a-fil and lemon bars…later on she jokes via twitter about weighing only 60lbs.

The whole thing screams… denial.

Denial from our society that talking about and promoting overly thin women is messing with the minds of young women all over the world.

Denial from individuals that the line between being healthy and unhealthy is closer than we think.

Denial from the church by avoiding the very topic of health and eating disorders despite it happening right in front of us. (I’ve never been on a church camp where the leaders weren’t watching one girl to make sure she ate…or didn’t run to the bathroom after each meal.)

These girls are broken and in pain. And they deny the pain by afflicting another kind of pain on themselves. These girls lives are out of control and they deny it by controlling their bodies in a damaging way. These girls are lied too about beauty and they embrace the lie and deny the truth of God’s word.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

It’s time for the denial to end. We begin by agreeing that weight is an issue for girls…and guys. Let’s talk about it in an honest way. Let’s pray that Jesus is near to us and to the brokenhearted. Let’s get help for ourselves and for the girl’s that we minister to in our churches and our lives.

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.