Today was a huge step in a more recent dream for our high school ministry – we are in the preparation and launch phase of a new care system. Simply put, we have some incredible volunteers that are willing to pray and be available to the students at a specific high school in the area. Like many youth ministries, we serve multiple schools – so there will be two campus pastors for each (of the phase one) local high school. There will be one guy and one girl – we figured the team approach works best and liked having both genders represented as well as those types of specific needs arise.

This is a non-program, just caring adults who want to engage with the students on campus. Here’s the thinking behind the challenge I asked them to take on this morning:

Be available for contact
We’re going to publish this list of volunteers and their contact information in a ton of places – the announcements during the countdown, at our student leader meetings, etc. We want them to get some attention! This is not a program, so it is all about students organically contacting their campus pastor when they have a need. When a new student comes to our ministry from one of these high schools, we’ll immediately get them the contact person of their campus pastor to help follow-up. A girl named Bethany visited this weekend – how awesome would it have been for me to give her the text number of a caring adult who will pray for her and grab coffee with her after her first couple of days of school?

Be ready to care/counsel
I posted a couple weeks ago about Caring for Students, and I think I’m ready to add this new layer to that drawing. These campus pastors will be available, trained and eager to jump in and listen to students needs and pastorally care for them. They aren’t meant to replace a small group leader or The Landing, but be a bridge to a next step.

Show up on campus
Be visible at sporting events and fine arts stuff. Walk the campus occasionally and pray for the students. Use your relationships with core students to meet their friends and expand the reach of care. When there is a need or crisis in their life or at the school, our prayer is that their first thought is to turn to you for help.

Speak occasionally in clubs
From time to time speak in the high school Bible club, FCA or Cookies for Christ. Identify and encourage teachers who are representing Jesus in the public schools. Take advantage of the club platform to help students grow into campus pastors themselves.

Each school will look different – none of them are programs, just opportunities for relationships with students right in the school. Excited about this idea! Just a thought that might trigger something for you – maybe pray about 3-4 volunteers to step up in your context and take on a similar role.

JG

Book Review: The Slow Fade

 —  September 15, 2010 — 2 Comments

Over the weekend I read The Slow Fade: Why You Matter in the Story of Twentysomethings by Reggie Joyner, Chuck Bomar and Abbie Smith. Despite the fact that I don’t work with college-age students, I enjoyed the book quite a bit. The different perspectives are interesting (Reggie observing the slow fade from afar, Chuck addressing it as a pastor, Abbie living it out) and there were a couple of really exceptional learnings from the book.

The actual “answer” in the book is deceptively simple. To combat the Slow Fade of college-age people leaving the church, they must be connected to a caring adult. That inter-generational ministry is the answer to this problem. Each of the authors go after the “older should teach the younger” Scripture in Titus 2 and I Timothy 5. The other thought that engaged my mind the most was the discussion of the youth ministry finish line. That we take students to the end of their senior year then set them free. The challenge in part of the book was to extend the finish line through college – that small group leaders, mentors and adult figures should continue on through this most crucial time in a young person’s life.

Some good stuff to think about – the book isn’t quite as long as it appears at first, there’s quite a bit of filler appendixes and a chapter of another book in the back. Good read if you work with upperclassmen and/or college Twentysomethings.

JG



My Rookie Season

 —  September 15, 2010 — Leave a comment

Posted by Jared Moine (for those of you who are new, Jared is a junior high pastor in the D.C. area who is in his first year of full time junior high ministry. Thus, the name of his column.

We’re Making Changes

The high school pastor and I have successfully talked the senior pastor into a crazy idea we both had and to both or our surprises, after some thought, he said yes. Up until this weekend our high school ministry has always had their “worship service” entry level program on Wednesday nights and since I have been here we have been having our middle school ministry service on Sunday nights. Both nights work and allow us to use the new, main, and only building. Our adults had been using the main building on Saturday nights and three times on Sunday morning. Since being here, I’ve noticed that only one of our services is full on Sundays and our Saturday night crowd is a good crowd but not massively growing and mostly full of people who come out of convenience that weekend. Meanwhile, both the high school pastor and I feel our student ministries need a change to make them healthy. We have a strong desire to have our students plugged in to small groups, and with the main high school service happening on Wednesday nights, finding another night of the week available, proves difficult. That, combined with the fact that most students don’t have much to do on Saturday evenings, we decided that Saturday would be our ideal time to have student services. However, this would require a significant shake up within the adult world of our church. We are so blessed to have a senior pastor who not only believes in us, but also believes in the importance of student ministries. We must have said the right things, because our senior pastor agreed to allow us to make this change that affects the whole church. This is huge and exciting and mostly scary. This is the first time for me to have a crazy idea, and to then get a chance to put it in place. If it’s great, then I’m part of a genius decision. On the flip side, if it sucks, it was my idea. That’s a scary sink or swim scenario that I, for the first time in ministry, find myself in. It’s terrifying, yet I think this is what faith is suppose to be all about, carrying out plans that you think are right and good, yet you don’t really know if it’s going to work.

Maybe you’re someone in the same shoes as me and you’re just getting started and everything is a new faith building exercise, or maybe you have been in your current job for a few years now and have really settled in and are doing some great ministry in a place where you know the culture and know what works for your students. If you have settled in, chances are you know what you are doing and you know that you can pull everything off. This is a good place to be, and to be honest I pray a lot to get to that place soon but there is something amazing about living in the moment and trusting God to make something grow. My prayer would be for those of you who have all the experience in your craft of youth ministry, that you would not be afraid to fail and try something new. Maybe it isn’t a complete shake up of your church, but just a small change could push your faith into an exciting new adventure. However, maybe God does have some big plans for your church and it’s you who needs to have the faith to dream and share an idea with a trusted ministry partner. Our current new adventure started with the idea of “what would be the best time for us to do youth services?” As we brainstormed the Saturday night plans kept getting better and better until finally we made a positives and negatives list and the positives in making a switch were so great that we even convinced our senior pastor.

I don’t know what God may have for you, but I do know that He always wants to grow our faith and the older and wiser we get the bigger steps of faith we need to be willing to take. Our next step starts this Saturday, when does yours?

This weekend one of our amazing small group leaders and geeks put together an incredible announcement video. It was the perfect end to our LAUNCH series back-to-school kickoff and a much-needed change of pace from talking head announcements. So fun!

JG



Silly little LifeGroups promo video we used this weekend. Inspires by The Asylum Youth Group at LifePoint Church!

JG

Just finished reading Mean Girls Gone by Hayley DiMarco. It’s the first book I’ve read by Hayley DiMarco, she writes a LOAD of books for girls. It’s a good little book to give to any girls who might be encountering mean girls at school or in life. Lots of space for journaling and processing…always a plus in a girl book. The book does feel a little like a part 2 and since I’ve never read any of her other books…I might have been missing part of it.

Have you read any of her books? Have your girls read any? Which would you recommend I read next?



One of my dreams come true – I got to make a little Star Wars film with some friends!

Here’s the setup: I “forgot” a prize for something on stage, so I run out of the auditorium on my way to find a suitable prize for the winner. The video starts when I leave the back of the room, and at the end I come running in with a box of donuts and a lightsaber. SO fun!

JG

Each summer I examine what we are going to teach the students. Not sure what your ministry does but we deliver most of our teachings through message series in our worship and small group programs. I’ve tried creating my own stuff, only to find that I’ve wasted months writing something that’s not useful.

When it comes to curriculum or resources there are millions of options out there, some from reputable publishers, others we aren’t so sure about. There seems to be a definite challenge to find something that perfectly fits the way we do ministry, while staying true to our faith. That’s why I’m constantly looking at what I can adapt. So instead of trying to create my own I spend more of my time and energy on adapting what’s out there. So, why should we adapt?

It’s easier, it’s saves us stress, time and energy. When it comes to writing curriculum we need a jumping off point, a good resource is an excellent foundation to creating something that will fit your ministry. I think we feel as if we have to have something original, because original means new and new means hype. But adapting something, putting your twist on it will make it fresh and produce the same results with less work.

Now I know the pushback might be we don’t want to plagiarize and there is the pressure of being original. So some of you might wonder, “How do we borrow without stealing?”

Look for the resources that give you permission. Believe it or not there are a lot of publishers and authors that encourage adapting. Next look at taking pieces of the resource instead of changing around the whole thing. Many publishers will encourage taking pieces of what they produce and using it in the context of your program. There have been many times I’ve used a video but not the discussion questions, or I’ve taken an exercise but not the teaching. As long as you are borrowing and not stealing it’s fine. A lot of the resources I use are from out of my denomination (Roman Catholic); however, I’ve found a positive response by taking pieces here and there and adapting it to the context of my faith.

It’s hard being original all the time, some of us don’t have the time, some of us aren’t shaped to design, create and write resources, but that’s okay. The great thing about being a youth minister is being a part of a community that shares with one another and offers resources.

Blogs like this are a perfect place for sharing ideas, so I would encourage all of you who read this to share something that you’ve used and adapted for your ministry.

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more about his blog Marathon Youth Ministry (link to http://blog.youthnativity.org)