This is such an exciting time of the year and if you have a lot of Youth Pastor friends on Facebook or Twitter, its so encouraging to read all the status updates and tweets leading up to the fall launch.

For our team, it’s been a fall of thorough and over the top intentionality with our students and potential students. Each week last year we collected information on every new student / guest and kept a record of it, and last week we called every student on our roster, every guest, every camp follow up we were given. It took a total of 12 man-hours to do, but the benefit was a 70% increase in attendance at our fall launch compared to last year. As much of a challenge as it is to call all those students I cannot say I am surprised at the outcome, since I know so many students just want to know that they are valued and wanted. A phone call is many times more powerful and meaningful than a text or FB, so if you have the resources to do it, I would encourage you to.

The other half of our strategy for this fall was to try and make it easier for our students to invite a friend out. I was trying to avoid an action packed promo video full of our best-of highlights, to me that would equate to a bait and switch leaving new comers disappointed that it wasn’t always crazy fun. We thought instead to do something that our high school students could post on Facebook, twitter etc, that was an invitation to our group. Its not a promo, not a best of, nor is it funny, but a sincere appeal to non-Christian students in our area to come be a part of what is happening. I am stoked about how it turned out, and I cannot wait to see what God is going to do with it.

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. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.

A couple weeks ago we noticed we were closing in on a significant milestone of friends on our student ministry’s Facebook page. We decided to give social media a little intentional push during announcements and also to hold a giveaway to one of the new friends as we went over the goal. Don’t be distracted by the number of friends – what’s the point here?

  • Set a goal - 3 months ago we had 1/3rd this number of friends. The goal made a huge difference.
  • Make your Facebook page worth visiting – mobile uploads are your friend. Score a volunteer to oversee updating of pictures and statuses. I would guess most people will visit your Facebook page before visiting in person.
  • Pictures speak volumes - a picture is worth a thousand words. Get some pictures of students having a great time at youth group online.
  • Give to get – yes, the iPod giveaway idea cost us, but gave us an open door of communication with a much larger group of students than we had last week.

Grow your Facebook influence and it will help grow your youth group.

JG



I might not be the best person to take time management advice from – I perpetually run about 15 minutes late to everything. So I don’t have it all together but have found a few ways to squeeze a little extra productivity out of the work week. Here are a few of the ones I like the most:

Get a 10-minute jump start on your day the night before
This one might not be the best one for everyone in case it would upset your restful sleep – but for me I can get a ton of work started if I do a quick check in right before bed. Once the family is set for the night and the house is quiet, I like to steal 10 minutes on webmail to set the day tomorrow. Maybe a quick scan of the calendar, a short reply, or an awareness of tomorrow’s challenges help me prepare mentally for the next day.

Turn off work on your day(s) off
When it is time to be off – be off! I realize that many church cell phones are also your personal phone, but you’ve got to shut them down. If you play hard, it’ll help you focus on work when it is time to work. Religiously take a day off, and make sure you’re really off.

Ditch TV unless you’re exercising or being productive
A great way to make sure you get both exercise and entertainment in during the week is to combine them. If you find yourself killing too much time on the couch, limit the amount of TV you watch by time on the treadmill. You might be surprised by what you could do (start a blog, write a book) if you force yourself to be productive at the same time or drop TV altogether.

Cut the distractions in the office
Turn off your email alerts. Disable Facebook’s constant stream of interruptions. Make sure Twitter isn’t always stealing your focus and concentration. Close your door if you have to. When you give yourself wholly to a task or complete it, reward yourself with a social media break or walk around the church office.

Lump similar tasks together
Let’s say you have to make 5 phone calls, write 15 cards, return 16 emails and work on budgets with multiple people. By putting these tasks into chunks of time you’ll be able to knock them out more quickly. Get in a rhythm, crank out the calls or projects all at once.

How do you squeeze more work into your work week?

JG

In the next minute or so I will teach you how to become the coolest youth pastor, increase your average attendance and get real results. The best part is, all you have to do is understand the teenagers definition of one word: Time. There is no better way to spend these next few minutes than to keep reading.

Students often compare things. For example – I have 10 minutes; should I go on Facebook or start homework.

But what about when they have an Hour or Two; is Youth Group more important than studying for a test, or watching the latest episode of Glee?

Here is the thing you need to realize: students only show up if they are benefiting, growing or see the value of going to church each week.

So as a youth pastor you need to utilize all your resources to make your youth group a place students value in all aspects. From hanging out with friends to learning more about God; you need to make it the best possible value for their hour and a half that night.

Their are tons of options on how to do this. My personal favorite is bringing in a Guest Speaker for a week or two. Its a great opportunity to promote ahead of time and encourage every student to show up. Maybe even offer free food depending on how big your budget is, because students love free food.

Encourage students to invest in their church; from sharing their testimony to running the slides during worship, always offer ways for students to add value. Another big thing is to start and end on time. Brain storm some ideas and maybe even ask a couple students what they would change or add.

Just remember this cold honest truth (right or wrong); students compare the value of activities and you need to make church the best value out there.

Chase Miller is a High School student from Orange County, CA. He loves to surf, tweets occasionally and would love to Guest Post on your Blog!!



Welcome back Doug Fields with his co-host, Katie Edwards, and his co-co-host Josh Griffin. Dont forget the star of the show Matt McGill. This episode has some crazy stories and questions, so make sure you listen all the way to the end. We have a revenge of the nerds segment to kick off the show listening to Matt go on about Settlers of Katan board game. That ends quickly and they answer your questions about Parent / Student activities for incoming students, weird volunteer stories, using Facebook to confront a student, communicating with students from a past ministry, Cell phone / Internet rules during youth group, medical marijuana use by volunteers and telling parents about students sex life.

JG

If you are into sports, you might be able to relate to what I am talking about. I personally am a huge hockey fan, I love the Vancouver Canucks and watching hockey is something I really enjoy doing. But this year I have realized that my passion is just not healthy, in fact arguably sinful. I am certain that I am not the only person that gets wrapped up in sports, but when I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours leading up to an important game God convicted me in a big way about this obsession.

The combination of stress, joy, malnutrition and unusually high heart rate should have been a dead give away that something was amiss, but when my brother brought me home a T-shirt from the game that read “this is what we live for” that I realized just how wrapped up I was. Could it be, that this is what people including me are living for? A seasonal passion for a sports team, and how could it be, that I could get so wrapped up in it. I wasn’t hungry on game days, I was grouchy when they lost, pumped when they won, its not right.

But what about the thing that is most important in my life, where is my undying passion for that, and that is where it hit me. I was in over my head and more invested in sports than my ministry and here is what I have been praying God would do in light of this deep conviction that I had let a sports team become an idol.

1- That God would help me to be more excited about what He is doing in the lives of our students than how my team is doing in the playoffs.

2 – That I would be as passionate about seeing hearts won for Christ as I am about games won by my team.

3 — That I would be living for something that matters and that passion would be obvious to my students, leaders and others, saved and un-saved.

In the age of Facebook our lives are more transparent and students can easily see what we hold highest and its really easy to let other things upset what should be a clear hierarchy of priority and I am sure that many of us have been in the same position. If you are someone that gets easily wrapped up in things other than His Kingdom, ask Him to work that out. It’s been a great week as God has worked on my heart to make sure its pointed to Him.

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. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.



Hey everyone from CMTA 2011! Thanks for making our youth ministry workshops fun this weekend – I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are the links from the 99 Thoughts for Youth Workers trainings I promised you this weekend:

JG

Yesterday, we posted our Twitter strategy and coincidentally, Collide Magazine posted a similar article. I wanted to offer four questions to answer before you go forward with developing your own strategy so as to streamline the process. Giving well thought out answers can make the process painless and achievable. Tomorrow, we will look at how we plan to handle networking.

Who do you post tweets for? This can be as simple as “for myself” or as complex as what we said: “Everyone who wants to impact the Church as well as those who love technology and social media …” Remember, the broader you get, the more you will have to keep track of, write for, and network with. In a business model, hopefully this is already written done somewhere. If not, look at your mission or vision statement and hopefully it will become clear. For those that are just posting for fun or as freelance workers, what topics do you find yourself wanting to post?

What is the endgame of your tweets? Do you want your followers to go somewhere to buy something? Are you intended to have them see your blog? Or maybe you simply want us as followers to see how brilliant you are, awesome! For churches, it might be reminders of events. For us, we have stated that “the first line of interest is our ‘product’ including our blogging and projects we are working on.” Whatever it is you are wanting to do, remember that this is your top priority. Retweets and #FridayFollows are great, but these are not the top priority in the vision of this Twitter account. Always keep perspective of that.

When is it best to tweet consistently? For some, once a day is all that they care to post. Others have an automated WordPress plugin like Twitter Tools or scheduling web app like HootSuite to plan things out for you. One advice for multiple daily tweets, space them out through the day. It is good marketing to not only let followers know you exist but remind them throughout the day. For us, we have scheduled tweets from 8AM EST to 5PM PST as well as semi-hourly networking tweets.

Is there value to what you have to say? It is one thing for us to have a strategy of using Twitter and whole other problem of not having anything valuable today. The last thing I care about is that the Chinese food you had for lunch was too much for you. In fact, I might stop following you solely for that reason. We are not asking you to reinvent the wheel, a Scripture verse that caught your eye or a retweet about the latest Google or Apple press release is perfect, but will your audience like it too? At the same, some of it should be coming from you. It does not have to mind-blowing, but should represent you or your organization.

Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens. Check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.