Prayer Walk

Colton Harker —  May 31, 2013 — 1 Comment

Prayer Walk

With the school year coming to a close, we thought we would have one last big push for a campus outreach event. We decided to go out with a bang and do a multi-campus prayer walk! Prayer walks are one of my favorite things that we do! It is a completely student lead prayer event that takes place each school campus in our area at the same time. Here are a few reasons I’d push it for your ministry!

Student Leadership Opportunity! It is a great opportunity to give your students a chance to really own something. They are responsible for everything from promoting it to programming it. The cool thing about programming it is that a prayer walk can be done in a ton of different ways. Some schools have their students walk around the entire campus praying for specific teachers, student groups, etc. Some schools have a worship session at the beginning. And some schools even split off by grades and pray for each other! Prayer Walks allow student leaders to get creative with their events and experiment with some cool elements.

Adaptability! There are a ton of different occasions to put on a Prayer Walk. We just did ours because the school year is coming to an end. We prayed for things like graduating seniors and incoming freshmen. You could put them on right before the school year starts, right before finals season, right after a school tragedy, etc. You get to adapt the event to match what is happening in the student’s lives.

Fellowship! Prayer Walks have proven to be a great bonding time for our schools. We have our students promote it through all of the school clubs and push it to any Christians they know. Because of that, students get to be joining in prayer and ministry with students from other churches. Because we have the prayer walks on Sundays, students usually go out and grab lunch together after and just hang out, allowing them to get to know each other outside of school hours.

Is your ministry doing any prayer events? How do you do them?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

As my high school group of guys have grown older I’ve noticed the amount or responsibilities and conflicts in schedule have grown.  Because our groups meet every Thursday night it’s easy for them to miss a week here and there.  However, as the obstacles and alternate opportunities grow their attendance starts to falter.  They tell me they love being their; however, they are just so bogged down with:

  • School Work
  • Sports Practice
  • Responsibilities At Home

I’m sure this list could continuously go on for many of you and that your groups face similar challenges.  The key to keeping the group strong is to enable it to grow outside of your allotted time.  That means connecting with teens multiple times during the week in a variety of ways.

That might seem fine to you; however, overwhelming to your volunteers. If you introduce that idea to them there might be push back or reluctance, and that’s okay.  You just need to help and show them how to grow outside the designated time.  To do that:

  • Give Leaders An Out – From time to time give your small group leaders permission to do something outside of the usual time or agenda.  Because time is so valuable allow them to sacrifice a night of the “usual youth ministry” to do something different.  Challenge them to embark in a service project instead of discussing service.  Encourage them to do something social that will build camaraderie.  Give them permission “to play”.
  • Extend An Invitation - Many leaders might not know where to start when it comes to investing in their group outside the weekend.  Invite them to join you when you are heading out to a game (Where their teens might be present) or on an outing your group might be planning.  By extending an invitation you are leading by example. 
  • Set Them Up For Success - On top of extending an invitation to join you equip them with resources that will help them connect with teens outside the group.  That might mean training them on social media etiquette, or giving them the tools for planning a night of laser tag.  As the youth minister of your church you have a wealth of resources and knowledge that your volunteers need access.  

The more a group can grow outside of the weekend or it’s usual time the stronger it will become.  It will teach the teens how to build relationships outside of a youth ministry setting.  It will also build confidence in your leaders because they’ll feel like they have ownership.  When your leaders are motivated to lead outside the group it extends your capacity to be present in the community.

How do you help your volunteers connect with teens outside the designated time?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)



Constitution Progress

Our High School Life Groups recently went through the “What on Earth Am I Here For?” a small group series by Rick Warren. One of our great small group leaders, Nathan Wells (who happens to also blog at http://www.nothingworthreading.com/) told us about something really cool they did during week 3′s topic of fellowship:

When we got to week three, the topic was on Fellowship and this unknowingly opened a Pandora’s box for our guys to get real. In this series Pastor Rick divides the concept of fellowship into four main categories:

  • SHARING Together (Your Experiences, Your Support)
  • BELONGING Together
  • SERVING Together
  • SUFFERING Together

We asked the guys to rate themselves on a scale of 1-5 of how they thought they act in general and how they act in Life Group in these four categories. Some rated themselves more graciously than others. After which, we (the leaders) made a general statement to the whole group that we didn’t think they were as high rated as some of them thought they were. (This was an intentional sting to get them to critically analyze this idea; we have a 3-year relationship).

The product of this was a strong conversation about what our problems are in our Life Group. We put each category up on the wall and made a list of things of why they felt it was hard to fulfill these categories. On a following week, we then drafted plans on how we could resolve these problems. We went through each item critically and devised solutions on how to counteract them,

By the end of the three weeks and after many conversations, we typed up all the things that were shared. We needed to have a way of organizing the commitments they developed to help change the problems, so we decided to borrow the format of the US Constitution for organization purposes. This can be misleading, because it is not a list of rules or laws, but rather a list of commitments. We also noted that our Life Group operated within the same checks and balances as the U.S. government.

  • God – Judicial (Ultimate Authority)
  • Adult Leaders – Executive (Final Authority)
  • Students – Legislative (First Authority)

All in all, the students produced a well thought out document that shared their heart and passion to be committed to one another and encourage one another to grow in their relationship with Christ together. We had communion together before signing it and prayed together as a way to honor God as the leader of our Life Group and then everyone signed copies so each student could have a signed copy. Because they wrote it, they have faithfully upheld it and are engaging more in fellowship.

JG

This week we’re going to focus on some of the best practices of youth ministry nationwide and hope that it generates some helpful conversation as you agree, disagree or have no opinion either way! Right up front we want to let you know that there is no PERFECT way to do youth ministry; our hope is that you prayerfully consider your context and determine what would and wouldn’t work in the ministry you lead.

BEST PRACTICE: Dividing up junior high and high school students.
There is simply too much difference between a 12-year-old 7th grader and an 18-year-old graduating senior—specifically, the developmental differences. Plus, on a practical note, keeping them separate gives the junior highers something to look forward to. Having said all that, there are some incredible opportunities when you keep these groups together. The older students can disciple and model what younger students can become over the next few years.

QUESTIONS:
• Do you have separate ministries for junior and senior high?
• Why or why not?
• What are other pros and cons of dividing up these age groups?
• What would happen if you made the switch?

BEST PRACTICE: Small groups being the primary method of discipleship and fellowship.
Most youth groups meet once a week for a large-group time of celebration, fun, and worship; and then either as part of that gathering, or at another time during the week, divide up into small groups for fellowship and discipleship. The overwhelming model has been for groups to work through a curriculum and also share life and Christian community together.

QUESTIONS:
• Does your church have small groups, Sunday school, or just large group times?
• Why have you chosen this strategy?
• What is the weakness of this model?
• Sunday school used to be invincible; now it has largely been replaced by small groups. What’s next?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.



This past week in the Refinery we did something really fun – our Life Groups are kicking off the year together and we set up a simple photo station outside the youth room. We took pictures of all of the groups – some serious, some goofy – and put them up on Facebook for people to check out. Couple great but simple things are happening without us saying anything at all:

  • Groups are sharing the pics on their walls and making them profile pictures, spreading the reach of Life Groups
  • The pictures serve as a constant reminder of who is a part of the group and to keep the group going strong through the year
  • They are just plain fun, the groups demonstrate/model Christian community even in their humor

Fun idea that might work for you or inspire you to do something even better!

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



There are a ton of reasons small groups don’t work for people. It is easy to look at the group and point fingers at others but the best place to find some answers is to look closely at yourself. In my experience I’ve seen several attitudes that stop true community from forming in student small groups. I was able to share 4 of these pitfalls as a warning to students this week at our Life Group kickoff:

Just don’t say anything
This is the person who gets to group and refuses to say anything at all. He or she will not let ANYONE in or say ANYTHING. They will not be vulnerable and refuse to let someone in. They are simply putting in their time, or perhaps they were hurt in a previous group and don’t trust people out of the gate. Community can’t happen with that mindset.

The TMI guy
This is the classic “oversharer” the person who talks on and on about everything in their life. The person who refuses to stop talking about themselves, and redirects all of the conversations to cleverly make it about them. The person who won’t open up LOVES this person, so they can continue sitting on the sidelines of the group.

The 10% rule
This is the person who shares just enough to satisfy their leader – or shares enough of their story to get correction that doesn’t sting. They tell the story slanted to their perspective that favors them. Some choose to share just 10% – just enough to keep the conversation going without getting deep. Some share 90% – and leave out the last part to disguise the real problem or the severity of the issue.

Us vs. them
Community isn’t just you and your peers – it is a connection with your leaders as well. I was talking to one of our leaders this week who said “I think they would be surprised at what I would show up at if they just let me in.” Build then keep unity within your group. Students who deflect genuine community by attacking the leader never win. Community says we’re all in this together and rejects cliques and insiders/outsiders.

So what do we do?
1) Identify the walls and masks in your life
2) Make yourself vulnerable to the others in your group
3) Share … all of it
4) Lead others by your example and unity

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-12

JG

A few weeks back we posted a question on whether or not to build a dedicated youth ministry space in the Church. The general consensus was, if you can do it, do it! So it begs the question, if you are going to build a youth ministry room or building, what are the non-negotiables as far as outfitting it? If you have a space, what could you not imagine living without, or was there something that you wished you put into the original plans?

  • Creative Space?
  • Foosball?
  • Ping Pong?
  • Stage?
  • Tortilla Maker?
  • Chocolate Fountain?
  • Fridge?
  • Lazy River?
  • Fixed Mount Projector?
  • Emergency Eye Wash Station?

Let us know what your must have elements are AND what are the things that you would not include if you could do it all over again?

GS – Twitter