Pastor Rick asked us each to submit our teaching/spiritual development plans for our areas of ministry – his desire was to refine the alignment of how we disciple from literal infancy to spiritual maturity as a graduate of high school. Here’s a little bit of the answer I gave in the profile of HSM. The answer for small groups was easy – we are going to exclusively use the LIVE Small Group material next year in life groups. Our weekend answer mostly revolved around these three categories of broad teaching topics:
Felt-needs. What are students dealing with we want to address? Topical teaching from God’s word. Topics are chosen that students want/need to hear about and practical instruction about how a follower of Jesus should respond to this topic. Example: the series we did this Spring called, “The Sex” about guys, girls, self-worth, premarital sex, marriage and more.
Doctrine. What do our students need to know about God and faith? What are the basic Christian doctrines essential to understanding God and theology? How do students define and defend their faith in God? Example: our apologetics series called Q from this Spring, or our current series called Trinity.
Bible survey. Survey of the books of the Bible. We want students to get holistic teaching and an understanding. Example: We’re doing a series called 5 Ways to be Awesome, which is really a 5-week chapter study on the book of James. Our summer Midweek program is an 8-week expositional study of Ephesians.
One of our small group leaders named Dennis (who runs volunteeryouthministry.com) had a great post about challenging his small group boys with next steps over the summer. Some good stuff in
1. Grow spiritually! Just as they should be further along spiritually than they were when the school year began, they should be further along spiritually in the Fall when we come back together for small groups. To help them do that, I remind them of some of our discipleship tools (HABITS — see the link below) they can do on their own. I actually have a few copies there so they can take something with them if they choose.
2. Stay connected! Even though we are not having small groups over the summer, there are plenty of ways for them to stay connected through the church. I have plenty of our ministry’s summer calendars so those who don’t already have them can grab one. I especially highlight our summer camp because that’s where the best connections and spiritual decisions are made.
A great new article from Doug and Matt in their their YouthMinistry.com Daily email that went out today. It featured some great thoughts on planning in youth ministry. Here’s a clip, head there for the rest (and subscribe to get them all for free, too):
Planning allows you to be strategic. When you spend time to think ahead, you get to ask and answer the question, “What is most important?” Last minute planning often results into default actions that appear to simply “fill up the calendar” and lack strategy. When you determine your priorities ahead of time, you can focus on them more intentionally and have the time to carefully discern where God might be leading your ministry.
Planning leads to healthy ministry. Just because there motion and activity doesn’t necessarily mean your ministry is effective and healthy. We believe that many youth ministries could cut out half of what they are doing and would actually be healthier. Taking time to plan allows you to evaluate the health of your ministry.
Planning gives you a chance to gather feedback from others. Once you have a planning draft you can gather feedback from the wisdom of others. It can be a good leadership move to allow people to chime in during the early phases of planning while everything is still a “work in progress”. More eyes on your planning (the right eyes) usually equates to more wisdom. When ministry is last minute, people can only judge after the fact… which makes it easy to be critical, and difficult for you!
A few years back I got to meet Bethany Hamilton, the teen girl who was attacked by a shark while surfing. She spoke at the PDYM Student Leadership Conference. We hung out in the green room and talked about Jesus and life. She’s a pretty cool girl. And she’s overcoming the odds in life and pointing all the glory to Jesus. Girls need to hear the stories of other girls who are overcoming, who care and who love Jesus. Bethany is a real live example of one.
I read her book that same year. It’s an easy read of her journey – any teenager could read it. I saw online that she also has a little devotional guide for girls. I am thinking about checking it out. I’ll keep you posted.
In today’s economy it can be tough to get people to attend a retreat or camp. And despite the economy college-age people aren’t exactly known to have a ton of extra money laying around. Everything has a cost, but there are some things that can help. For instance, for the Utah winter trip we used to do we would offer different packages. We had a base package that included transportation, lodging, meals and some activities. We offered a separate package that included a one-day lift ticket, another for two days, and a third package for a three-day lift ticket. The base amount was pretty low which allowed people that couldn’t afford much to still be a part of the trip. There are all kinds of things you can do to try to keep the cost down, but offering different packages is a great and simple way to do that – and this can be with any type of trip. You can also:
â€¢ Plan your trip during weekdays if at all possible. If you are staying overnight, and especially in a hotel, weekday rates are often less money.
â€¢ Ask the hotel about complimentary rooms for leaders. Most of the time they will give you free rooms and usually suites – where multiple leaders can stay.
â€¢ Shop around. If you are checking out places to stay, make sure those places know you’re also seeking pricing from others as well. If you find a better deal at one place go back to the other and let them know what they offered you. You might be surprised at how flexible they become.
â€¢ Offer payment plans. As soon as we started promoting a trip we let people know that we could place them on a payment plan. Of course this takes some administrative work, but working out a monthly payment plan with people can be a great help. Some people, unfortunately, don’t end up paying their full amount. But this allows for a lot of teachable moments too–that are priceless. Here are a few recommendations for this approach: (1) only offer them for the base amount, not things like lift tickets or other extra’s, (2) have a minimum amount they have to pay before they go on the trip–at least the cost of the deposit, (3) develop a very short contract detailing the payment due dates and amounts between the church and the student.
â€¢ Do fundraisers. If your church allows this, these can of course help.
â€¢ Seek sponsors. If there are older adults in your church that are already involved with college-age people consider personally asking them to sponsor a student or three. You can divide these amounts any way you want, but having people donate toward this cause can really help.
â€¢ Be wise. Some things aren’t necessary to spend money on–like fliers. With all the technology you can invite people, even have sign ups, in ways that don’t cost money. Fliers aren’t the issue, the issue is just thinking through ways you can do things that don’t cost money. These small costs add up over time and many of them aren’t necessary.