article.2013.04.09This week we’re going to take on the top 3 questions that we get when people come to visit our youth ministry. You’ll get mine (Josh) today and Kurt’s tomorrow. Here are 3 very frequently asked questions:

How can I start a youth ministry internship at my church?
We are very blessed to have some really incredible interns at our church and a program that doesn’t cost the church a ton of money that produces some pretty amazing youth workers. If you want to start one, you’ve got to answer some very basic but fundamental questions about the program:

  • Will we pay the interns?
  • Where are they going to live/eat/office?
  • What is the duration of the program?
  • What are we hoping to accomplish in both them and in our ministry?

If you can answer those basic questions, you are off to a great start! For starters, I would pay the interns a very small stipend, if possible, to help cover gas and a couple meals, and keep the duration short like a summer term. Map out the basics of what they will be doing and how you want to shape them and you’re well on your way.

While I don’t have space for much more, for extra credit here’s a roadmap of where to go next:

  • Look for margin where you can add managing interns to your regular workweek. The last thing interns need is an absent leader!
  • Create a required reading list during the internship.
  • Schedule a few times for them to interact with key leaders in the church.
  • As you plan their development, consider having them observe, follow then lead an event, youth service and volunteer from application to placement.

How many events do you guys do at your church?
We made a decision long ago that we weren’t going to build a ministry that was event-driven. But to be honest, we have to continually fight the advance of program creep. Program creep is where you continue to add more and more and not take anything away!

With that in mind, we have our weekly youth group on the weekend and small groups that meet in homes during the week, and then just occasional supplemental events from there. A serve project here, a Dodgeball tournament there. We consciously don’t do a ton of events to keep balance on the biblical purposes. Just so you know, in summer we do a TON more events, so things change with the seasons, too!

So do you teach every week at youth group?
I would guess I teach about 50% of the time in our youth ministry I love giving the platform away for so many reasons:

  • Students need to hear from different voices
  • Sometimes the same thing being said by someone else sticks.
  • Leaders need platforms to develop their speaking skills.
  • I need a break!

Don’t be afraid to give away your platform a little bit you might be surprised at how quickly you fall in love with the byproducts of it. Just keep in mind as the point person make sure you are speaking at the key times and visible and supportive when you’re not on stage.

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.

article.2013.01.09From time to time we pause from the normal posts to answer a few questions from you—the Youth Ministry Nation. Here are a couple we received in the past few weeks, all relating to baptism.

1. How much time do you believe students need after becoming Christ-followers before they should be allowed to be baptized?
Great question! While each church or denomination may have specific programs, rules, or structure, the example we see in Scripture is that baptism was often immediately after conversion. When someone trusted Jesus, they got baptized. Take some time to investigate what traditions your church holds to in this area, and make sure you have a conversation about the baptism process before you run someone into the water and then get into hot water yourself.

2. Do you have a baptism class? Is it required before you are baptized?
We don’t have a specific baptism class in our church for students—we definitely do in our children’s program, and every student 6th grade and under is required to attend before they can be baptized. In junior high and high school we simply interview the student who inquires about baptism and talk about their faith and why they want to be baptized. Usually early in the conversation an experienced youth worker will be discerning enough to know if the student is ready or not.

NOTE: We always get parental approval before baptizing a teenager in our youth group for two reasons: 1) We don’t want the parents to miss out on the celebration and 2) We don’t want to baptize a teenager against a parent’s wishes (we once baptized a student of a completely different religion, MUCH to the disapproval of Mom and Dad).

3. What do you think a student needs to know before they get baptized?
The Scriptures show us that they need to understand that Jesus is the way of salvation and trust in him as their Savior—after that, they’re good to go. Remember, baptism is just a symbol of the transformation of the heart that has already taken place.

If you’re looking for some passages to study as you begin to answer these questions for yourself and your youth group, consider these: 1 Corinthians 15, Mark 1, Acts 8, Romans 6, Matthew 28

4. Do you have any baptismal studies resources you could share?
Yes! The one we would recommend first is the student version of our membership classes where baptism and salvation are the central topics of the first class: CLASS 101-401 Curriculum

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.

From time to time I post a question that comes into the blog for YOU to answer. What advice would you give this youth pastor who is asking about teaching/discipling checkpoints in their youth ministry. Weigh in!

We have a great group of leaders, but my biggest frustration is trying to come up with ways to help grow them as leaders and move them forward in their leadership capacity.  I’ve tried several ways but just haven’t found a way that seems to “click” just right. If you wouldn’t mind sharing, what sorts of things do you guys do to help grow your leaders?  How often do you meet?  What do you talk about?  How do you grow as a team?  

What would you say? Weigh in!