In your ministry, you have influence. You can use this influence to shape the way each student views learning about Jesus; His love, creation and His expectations of us. You can create engaged and active learners who are eager to learn more. Instilling the love of learning in those you minister to can be done by engaging your students through their creativity and simply by loving them!

Engaging your students through their creativity

  • Look for ways to be a blessing – Take a stuffed teddy bear to someone who isn’t feeling well, bring a copy of last week’s sermon to someone who missed church, smile when you pass someone by, buy someone a Bible. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple is powerful.
  • Build things together – Houses for the homeless, a set for a ministry video, build a new podium for your senior pastor. When you build things together, you are learning about teamwork and about caring for other’s through skills you may or may not have had before.

If you are not so creative, delegate tasks to the students who are, they would love to put their talents to work! Someone great at designing t-shirts, have them design some for a fund raiser. Someone great with woodwork, have them design a set for a play geared toward teaching other’s about Jesus. Someone great with the camera? Have them take some pictures for a new ministry photo album.  Short on ideas? Ask the creative ones, they will have many ideas on how they can use their talents to serve the ministry.

Simply love them!

  • This means showing grace in what may seem to be the worst situation. Things happen. They are here today, done with tomorrow. Loving others should be our focus. Remain at peace through the storm and let God handle the details.
  • Listen – Sometime we are so busy teaching and talking, we forget to listen. Take some time out to hear what they’ve got to say.
  • Be transparent – Be real with them. You have struggles just like them.
  • Spend time with them with no expectations – Let time spent with them flow whether it be into conversation or into a crazy fun game night!
  • Be involved in what they enjoy – When you enjoy being around someone, you’ll make the time to be involved in what they enjoy. It could be you showing up at their soccer game, going to the mall with a group of students or going to the arcade. Spend time in their world.

When you engage your students through their creativity and simply love them, they are actively learning about Jesus; His love, creation and His expectations of us. They will leave your ministry with the tools needed to equip others with the love of lifelong learning as well. Which is so important because this is how we grow in spirit and in stature, we’ve got to be actively engaged and eager to learn more for all of our lives.

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

When God places you in a role of leadership, it is not to be taken lightly. He wants to live through you and wants to make a life changing impact in the lives you come in contact with. To do this, you have got to be willing to lead by example so they will have someone to imitate. “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)

Living in transparency
We all have short comings. It is important to allow others to see that in you. It is especially when you are in a role of leadership and all they ever see is the perfect side of you. I like to invite the children in my ministry into my world and allow them to live in my imperfect world if only for a moment. I show them it is okay to be imperfect and God can and will still use you anyway. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Love when it hurts
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God–for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8) Love does not stop loving when it doesn’t feel good anymore. Love keeps on loving even when it hurts. It goes to enormous lengths to comfort, to guide, to protect and to lead. With God’s love, we can lead our youth to Jesus.

Speak life
Whether with your youth at church, at a concert or at home; you should watch the words you choose. Words have the power to either lift someone up or drag someone down. It is never okay to speak down on someone even if it is only meant for fun. We are raising up planet shakers and our words should reflect just that. Speak life into your youth group. Speak life to the kid who no one would give a second look. God has incredible plans for each of them. Speak life, see life.

Let’s take our leadership role seriously and choose to lead by example, allowing God to use us to positively impact the lives of the youth of tomorrow.

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.



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I love Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I usually find myself on each one of them at some point nearly every day. There’s something great about reading about our friend’s lives 1000′s of miles away or chucking at someone’s pithy observation about life. But what if our Tweets were real?

  • My senior pastor is a jerk sometimes. I want to punch him in the face
  • I’ve been married 10 years, and still don’t have sex figured out
  • I’m pretty sure my whole youth group is filled with “that one kid”
  • The last time I read the Bible was in late 2012
  • I want to quit I want to quit I want to quit
  • Things aren’t good deep inside me, but the outside is as shiny as ever
  • If I could figure out where to dispose the body, I’d take out that parent

Don’t Tweet these! We need to continue to post those stunning sunsets, epic CS Lewis quotes and pictures of our no foam latte. I would die if my real life made it was genuinely Tweeted for the world to see, or pictures of my inner world made it online. But you need to be sharing it somewhere.

You need to have someone who knows the real you, not the brand, image or “always on” youth worker. You need to be able to confess, share, process and pray through the stuff you would never Tweet.

Simple question to kick off the week: is someone reading your real Tweets?

JG

I am coming to the end of my very first year in paid ministry and, of course, it has been a huge time of reflection. There were so many successes and more than a fair share of failures. While the failures might have sucked in the moment, there have been so many lessons that the Lord has taught me through them. One of my biggest failures (but biggest learning) happened at the very beginning of my career.

My first taste of ministry was interning for one of the guys on the High School team. I learned a ton from him because, frankly, the guy is a legend. He is a logistical mastermind, has a huge heart, and is a total servant. I saw the incredible impact he was able to make not just in our ministry, but our church as a whole. Being so new to the game, I wanted to be just like him.

So when I went out on my own, I tried to do just that, be just like him. The problem was that in my pursuit to be more like him, I lost what made me, me. I smothered the parts of myself that wanted to dress up for events or make a fool of myself on a video in order be just as reserved as he was. I slowly started abandoning the pastor that God created me to be.

I’m sure that I’m not the only one that has been there. So many of us have seen someone that is incredible at what they do and, in hopes of capturing their success, strived to be just as funny, just as smart, and just more like them.

While we might think that we will be more effective this way, we are actually hurting our ministry in the long run. When we try to be more of something we aren’t, we are completely mismanaging ourselves. We try to make our weaknesses our strengths and push our strengths to the backburner. We cripple ourselves.

This stems from the insecurity that makes us believe that we aren’t effective. Whether we are consciously thinking this or not, we are thinking that God can’t use someone like us. But the truth is that God can and wants to use someone like you. Each one of us is an essential part of the body of Christ. If we are using the body as a metaphor, don’t try to be a foot if you are a hand. God placed you exactly where he wanted you. If He wanted another foot in the body, He would have put one there. If He didn’t want you in the position you have, you wouldn’t be there. Trust that God doesn’t want you to be someone else.

In short, your ministry needs YOU. It needs your gifts, your personality, and your heart. Be authentic. Be real. Your ministry needs it.

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Director at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.



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Weekend Teaching Series: Instalife (week 2 of 2)
Service Length:
75 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we wrapped up the incredible Instalife series. I Tweeted the other day about how much I had loves this series – for sure it was the most well-received series of the year. Didn’t mean it was soft or light, but the framework of Instagram really helped make it very relevant to their lives. This week we went after pretending and showing off on Instagram, and how pretty soon we start to get great at covering up. I walked students through some principles from Colossians 3 to help students deal with this destructive mindset. Really, really enjoyed this service.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had a couple of great Christmas videos I can’t wait to show you. One was the classic “That’s Christmas” and a new video called A Very Colton and Travis Christmas special. We also played Who Wants to Be a Fraction of a Millionaire (Instagram edition). Lots of students involved, lots of laughs.

Music Playlist: He is Alive, Christ in Me, Mary Did You Know, We Are Saved, O Holy Night

Favorite Moment: At the end of the talk I decided to do an extended object lesson on stage where we built the “perfect Instagram” on stage, then deconstructed it to help teach the lesson. One of my favorites, such a powerful image that our students/leaders pulled off to help strengthen the lesson.

Up next: Christmas Services (all-church, 1-off)

Doing Youth Ministry Well

Josh Griffin —  December 6, 2012 — 1 Comment

I liked reading Justin’s post 5 Things You Need to Know in Doing Youth Ministry Well - thought it was some good stuff for you all to check out today. He’s got 5 good insights there, here are a couple to get you started before you run over to his site for the rest:

Be all in- Go all in. Get involved. Break the awkwardness of you being one of the only adults in the room. You know, the students know it, just jump in and break that awkward wall down. Greet them, get involved in the games, the worship, the message. They are watching you whether they know you or not and will determine if you are the real deal or not within two seconds. Is it going to be weird? Probably at first, but once they see you go all in, they will be right behind you.

Be real- Students are the best B.S. detectors I know. They can easily sniff out someone who is not genuine from the start. Don’t try to be the “cool” person because they are not interested. What I have found in doing ministry is that student respond best to any adult leader when they are open, honest, and real. You will not have every kid there liking you, but there is at least one kid that needs to hear your story and how you handled it that will help shape their spiritual life. Students will come to you once they know you are a “real” person.

JG



Connecting with Students

Josh Griffin —  October 23, 2012 — 1 Comment

AC had a solid blog post a couple days ago about connecting with students. He is a master relational youth worker in our ministry – definitely some good stuff we all can learn from him. Here’s a clip of the who article, head there for the rest:

  1. Lead by example and with words. – Preach and promote from first hand experience.  Would you buy a Ford from a salesman who drove a Chevy?
  2. Never miss an opportunity to point the student to Christ. – We believe Christ is the answer, the cure, the end all be all. In my experience a lot of the students problems are centered around where Christ is in their life.  You still have to be mindful of your approach but all roads should lead back to Christ.
  3. Never miss an opportunity to listen. – I cannot stress enough how important it is you become a listener.  I know some people are good at it naturally and some of us have to work at it.  It is truly a quiet mega strength that connects you with any student.

JG

This month I got to contribute another Slant33 article on the topic of leaving a youth ministry. There are a couple of great responses to the question, wise words from Tash McGill and Ian McDonald. Here’s a clip of what I shared there as well:

Leave at the right time. It isn’t always possible, but leaving at a natural break is best. The end of summer is ideal but not always possible. But even more than leaving at the right time in the calendar, pray through leaving at the right time in the church culture as well. Stay too long after you know you’re done, and it’ll be painfully obvious. Leave too soon, and you’ll blindside people.

Make the transition short. I understand the need for a transition time to help prepare students or ensure a peaceful exchange of leadership, but there’s nothing worse than a lame duck who is out but still in. Pray through the timing of your announcement and the timing of your last day. Typically I wouldn’t put these more than a month or two apart at the most.

JG