We recently just wrapped up a series called “You Are Here” where we explored God’s purpose for our lives.  The fifth week of the series was on serving, the why and how. Of course, we wouldn’t be able to finish a weekend on serving without a “call to action.” Normally, that would be us having a ministry fair where students could go and sign up for the different ministry teams that our ministry and our church have to offer. The problem with ministry fairs are that only half the students that write their names down on the sign-up sheets actually take their commitment seriously. There seemed to be something missing. When we reflected on it, we thought it stemmed from a misunderstanding of their SHAPE and a misunderstanding of what serving God means.

Now you can have as many ministry teams and service projects as you want, but if you don’t paint a good portrait of serving, you’re going to have some problems getting students out there. So during the weekend, we talked about how the students were created to serve. That each of us is created to be serving in our own unique ways. Instead of following this up with a ministry fair, we decided to provide our students with the opportunity to have one-on-one time with a staff member to talk about their own personal SHAPE and how they can start serving in their church, school, and community.

So throughout the week, my teammate, Hannah, and I have been meeting with students and had some really awesome conversations. I would really recommend doing something similar to this. It has helped boost some of our ministry teams and it has helped me build new or stronger relationships with students in our ministry. Here are some things that I have learned while doing it:

-The goal is to help students see the big picture of their lives. They have all the pieces, they just need help putting them together. So the first part is just getting them to talk about themselves so you can figure out all of their pieces.  Here are a few of the questions that I usually ask:

  • Are you involved at your school?
  • Are you in any extra-curricular activities?
  • Have you ever served before? What was that experience like?
  • What do you think you are good at?
  • What do you love to do (anything counts here, even video games!)?
  • Have you ever thought about what your spiritual gifts might be (this one is always a long shot)?
  • Is there a particular people group that you have a passion for or a connection to (single mothers, hospitalized children, etc.)?
  • What’s your story?

-When you start suggesting serving ideas to them, keep in mind that serving doesn’t have to be joining a ministry team or coming to a service project. Serving can be them making better use of the situation that God has put them in. Meaning, serving for them could be being a light on their soccer team or getting involved with their school’s Christian club. But feel free to push the student out of their comfort zone and offer some big things like a weekend serving retreat or even a mission trip!

-You also don’t have to have all of the answers for them during your first meeting. The one-on-ones are opening up a door of communication up with the student where both of you can follow-up with each other later on.

If you’ve never heard of SHAPE or want more information on it, check out Doug Field’s book “Congratulations…You’re Gifted!” It is an awesome book and a really helpful way to look at how God has designed us!

Colton [Email||Twitter]

June is one of my favorite months for a couple reasons: 1) It’s my birthday, and 2) It’s when our ministry gets incoming freshmen!  One of the things that we wanted to do right off the bat is get the class of 2016 involved in our ministry.  In order to do this, we wanted to throw a ministry fair!

We centered our message around the importance of using your gifts and talents to build up the body of Christ (S.H.A.P.E., as we call it) and then released the students early into the ministry fair, where they walked through a room that had 15 booths, each featuring a different ministry or serving opportunity.  We got a great response from students and I’m really excited to see how this affects the serving culture in our ministry.  If you want to throw a ministry fair for your youth group, here are a couple things to keep in mind:

-Feature ministries outside of your youth group.  Some of us have a lot of great ministries that are completely owned by our youth group, which is great, but make sure your ministry fair roster doesn’t stop there.  Always make sure you are including serving opportunities and ministries that your church as a whole offers.  This is a great reminder for students that they are a part of something much bigger than just your youth group, strongly promoting church unity.

-Get students to run it.  Set yourself up so that you are simply booking the room and making sure there are tables ready to go.  Get students to “own” the booths.  In our ministry, students run almost every ministry team, so they were the ones to run them.  If your ministry teams aren’t set up that way, get some students that are really involved in it/have a huge heart for it to run the booth.  It is great for students that are looking to sign up for ministries to see, and be able to talk to, students that are already involved in the ministry

-Make it fun! Get your students to decorate their tables.  Our Crew Ministry (greeting team) went all out (picture is included) and had costumes, our band ministry had a student playing guitar, and our tech team had a camera set up for students to play with.  Make it a competition for your students, giving awards for how creative they got with their booth.  This will let your students feel more of an ownership and make the fair more inviting for the prospective students looking for ministries.

-The finishing touches.  Before the ministry team leaders got there, we put a small packet on their table that would thank them and get them informed.  It had a letter (to thank them for their involvement), a list/blurb about all the ministries featured and a map of where they are at (to keep them informed about the fair itself).  The last detail I would push is to have a “take-away” at each table.  We gave out 4×6 cards that had all the ministry info (what it is/where it is/who to contact) so that students had something tangible to walk away with.

All of our resources (leader packet and “take-away” cards) are included in this post.

If your ministry already does a ministry fair, what would you recommend?

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