Stumbled on to an older post from Len Evans that had some great insight into the etheral concept of “fit”. Here’s an excerpt of his thoughts on how to fit on a team, in a youth ministry or at a church. Good stuff!

1. Theological Fit: This should be obvious but too many youth workers who grew up Baptist wonder why they have a difficult time in a mainline church, or the other way around. Unless you plant your own church there will rarely be a 100% theological match so know your theological non-negotiables.

I had a perfect fit theologically at my first church because the entire pastoral staff went to the same seminary. The differences do make a difference. Just because you are able to get along with someone that holds different theological views doesn’t mean that you can serve in the same church with them. I have a lot of friends from the entire spectrum of Christianity, we can pray together and I know they loved Jesus but I would never be able to work in some of their churches. It’s a matter of conviction and integrity.

2. Philosophical Fit: You and the church may value evangelism but if you don’t agree on how to do evangelism eventually you will have conflict. If one person in your church wants to hand out Chick tracts to anyone and everyone and another person wants to have a holistic approach to reaching their friends, there will be a conflict when they discuss evangelism. If the church defines youth worker as events coordinator and you think of yourself as a pastor who is about equipping others for ministry, there will be problems eventually.

3. Personal Fit: This applies primarily to the working and personal relationship with the senior pastor, although it also impacts other church leadership and personal interactions. A friend of mine spoke to almost 400 senior pastors at the ’96 National Clergy Conference in Atlanta. He asked “Who’s really close to their youth pastor”? Only one pastor slowly raised his hand. Everyone in a church setting should do what they can to ensure that more hands are raised at the next Pastor’s Conference when that question is asked.

JG

Doug Fields has just released the first info about his Student Leadership Conference 2011. Many people have been wondering when it would be back and I even posted about alternatives while Saddleback’s was on hiatus. But it is back on – hit the banner for details.

We are planning an experience where leaders (and potential leaders) from within your ministry will be enlightened with a new and deeper understanding of evangelism, fellowship, ministry, discipleship and worship. Through practical ministry exercises, engaging experiences, and general sessions taught by Doug Fields, student leaders will catch of vision for how they are individually wired to express God’s purposes in service to their youth ministry, family, friends, school and community.

JG



Youth Ministry is such a dynamic thing, change is common and needed, the group dynamics can shift week to week based on who is there and who is not. The temptation can be that sometimes we can be as dynamic with our approach week to week, changing style, flow and structure to a youth night. What I have noticing more and more is that a steadfast commitment to keeping a reliable and consistent structure can and will have more value and dare I say more fruit than a go with the flow style and here are two reasons why.

It Makes Outreach Easier: In the past year we have adopted a much more standardized format to our youth services, they are not the same week in and week out, but will always incorporate: a message of some kind, Worship and small group time for all students. What I have noticed as a result of this change is that students don’t ask, “what is happening at youth this week, I want to bring my friend out”. This was a question that as a small group leader several years ago I would get often. Students now know what to expect , and as a result are inviting their non-churched friends in droves. Consistency is many ways is safety, and creating a safe place for students to grow in their faith is of the upmost importance.

It is helpful to your leaders: I remember vividly, being a small group leader, and having one of those “God is moving huge nights” with my small group guys and just knowing that the next week we would take it further, challenging them more, sharing more. But then we got to youth the next week and its now crazy games night instead. The lack of consistency meant a loss of momentum and in some respects missed opportunities to build on what was already happening. Having consistency makes being one of your small group leaders so much better because you know that you are going to have time next week to answer those tough questions that you had to park, or for students to share how they implemented what was God put on their heart the week before. I am not saying not to have fun games night, but have the scheduled in a way that they are not counterproductive the the purpose of your ministry.

This might not be for everyone, its challenging to do, to set a vision, purpose and objective and stick with it. But from what I have seen, the impact it is having on students spiritual growth is worth all the hard work and discipline we have put in. Your students and leader will appreciate it, I know ours have.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. You can, too! See how right here.

It’s been an incredible year here on More Than Dodgeball (MTDB as the locals call it) – thanks so much for joining with me in the journey of youth ministry. I’ve had so much fun and appreciated all of your comments, emails, Tweets, Likes and guest posts. Close to half a million pages viewed during the course of the year with the blog now totaling 5,012 posts with 13,158 comments. Holy smokes!

Here’s a selection of the top 50 youth ministry posts of the year as told by Google Analytics:

And the most visited static page was My Recommended Youth Ministry Resources page – if you’re looking for some good stuff to use in your ministry setting in 2010 there is a good place to start.

Thanks for stopping by, subscribing and spreading the word in 2010. Here’s to 2011!

JG



In the past month two students have left our youth ministry.

One moved with his family to Texas. The other was a foreign exchange student who went back home to South Africa. We’ve known both were leaving for quite a while, but that didn’t make it any easier. In the final weeks for both guys we paid special attention to them. We wanted to make sure they knew they were loved and that we had communicated the most important truths about Jesus to them. We went out of our way to make them feel special, which was great and really made an impact with them.

But the thing is, was it really that unique that they were not coming back to youth group? The truth is, every student is leaving the group. Whether its after their first visit or when they graduate, no one stays in youth group forever. Those that try to end up getting kicked out! The goal for us as leaders should be to make every student feel just as loved as the guys we knew were leaving. There’s no way to know if a student will ever return, so why not try to make every encounter with them special?

A very wise man once taught me that the goal of a youth pastor is “reaching, not keeping.” We have to make sure that every student that we encounter feels loved, knows they’re special and is exposed to the Gospel. We have to focus on reaching them, not making sure they come back next week. Of course we would love for them return and we have a plan in place if they do, but we can’t control that. All we can control is how we interact with them while they’re there.

If you’re a pastor, leader, or just attend a church, please remember to make every encounter a special one. Communicate love and genuine care for the person. You don’t know if they’re coming back, so be sure you know you shared Jesus with them when they were there.

Stuart Owens is the youth director at his childhood church, Tallahassee Heights UMC. He is married to the love of his life, Taylor. He is also an unashamed Seminole fanatic.

I am still somewhat new at this whole being a Youth Pastor thing and because of that I am still learning as I go about some of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of what its all about. One thing that has been on my heart is providing places and spaces for students to invite their pre-Christian friends to. But I found on at least a few occasions, I was ill prepared to reap the harvest and likely missed a great opportunity. A great example would be our Flashmob event that we held last spring, the students hyped it, we planned for everything, they brought their friends, in fact we saw a nearly 50% increase in students at the event, but I was not prepared to handle that. In light of this, here are a few things I am wrestling with:

Make it manageable: We only get one chance to make a first impression, and if someone is an invited guest in the Church, I would like to make that experience the best I can. If we host an outreach event with many new students, there is a chance they could not be personally welcomed, they might feel awkward and this could be the last time they set foot in the door. Our Flashmob event taught me a great lesson that I need to take an active role in greeting those new students so that they do feel welcomed. If you plan and event so that students can bring 10 friends each to, and they do, you might be doing more harm than good.

Unleash your leaders: If you don’t have a welcome and greeting team, you need one! This is the best way to meet students when you cannot do it themselves. This is one of the most important front line ministries; they are the friendly face of the Youth Group. Our greeting team has a ’20 questions’ form they hand out with questions ranging from contact info, to Bieber or Timberlake to Pancakes or Waffles. These questions are quite strategic in quickly finding if they are from a Christian home, if they are skater kid or a “Lightsaber kid” with apologies to Josh, these are the pseudo dorky 8-10th grade boys that grab the coat rack and pretend it’s a Lightsaber. The purpose is to find a small group that they will thrive and make meaningful connections with students with similar interests. On the first night they are there, they will meet at least 3 core students, their new small group leader and myself.

Learn their name: There is nothing more valuable that learning a student’s name, it says to them that they belong and that they are memorable. All that contact information we get from outreach events is entered into our database; they are added on Facebook that night, invited into our student ministry FB group and added to our SMS blasts each week. Once they accept a friend request, we print a copy of their Facebook profile pic, put in on the wall in my office and the next time I see that student, at their school or at Youth, you better believe I will do everything I can to remember their name.

Planning an event is easy, engaging, welcoming and retaining the student influx of students is the difficult part, it takes teamwork, intentionality, hard work and diligence. Otherwise, these events will be attendance spikes that will have little long-term value. If your objective is for big numbers at one off events that is one thing, but if your goal is creating more disciples, be prepared that when you cast your net, it might come back full.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. You can, too! See how right here.



An interesting discussion came up on last week’s Simply Youth Ministry Podcast (episode 144, click here to watch it). The discussion was about giving your students an incentive (money, discounts, prizes, etc) for bringing their friends to church. The team seemed pretty much opposed to it, but I didn’t see it as a big deal. Curious as to what you think? Vote today!

JG

Thought this post over on Youth Ministry 360 was interesting as you begin to plan how to reach non-Christian students in your community. Here are a few of their first points, head there for the complete article:

Put your own ideas and plans aside
You may have an awesome, amazing, brilliantly innovative idea. But if it isn’t the right idea for the community it makes little difference. Shelve any ideas until you do your homework.

Survey your community
What does your community really need? Or at least what do people in your community feel they need? To answer this, consider surveying three groups outside your congregation: Young people, parents/guardians of young people, & community leaders.

Meet with anyone who will make time for you
It’s essential to get the information from those who have it. Find out who else works on youth issues, what is being done, what has been done in the past, and what they would like to see in the future.

Interact with the students on the streets
What you want is raw info from the demographic of people you’re hoping to reach (not your own youth group kids). Try bus stops, skateparks, and malls. Trade them a can of soda for a completed survey.

JG