Generational Lag Time

 —  July 22, 2014 — 1 Comment

hourglassLag…

really…

(yawns, stretches)

stinks.

My computer drives me crazy on a daily basis for this very reason. Sometimes it locks up because I’m multi-tasking beyond its memory capabilities. Other times it takes a long time to process a video I’m downloading or creating.

You have this in your life, too.

Your smartphone that never seems to operate as fast as you want it to. The cashier doesn’t get you through the line as fast as you want. Your route home in traffic is slower than normal for no reason that you can tell.

And then there’s generational lag.

Watch this video and see if you can relate at all to being in a room full of teenagers and yet being off in some category of the conversation:

What is that category for you?

For example, as hip and in-touch as I assume I am, I’m always amazed at how little I know of who’s who at music/teen awards ceremonies. How have you ever felt like that over something in culture… or simply in terms of what’s happening in your student’s lives?

How can we reclaim our lag time?

Absolutely loved this super-practical article from Gen 2 Gen Youth Ministry. It answers and gives some helpful pointers to a great question: how do I add/welcome in new students to an established small group? Really helpful stuff, here’s a clip, head there for the whole article – it make a great handout for your volunteers!

  • Don’t talk about the past. This might seem a little extreme at first glance, but let me explain. The more you use lines like, “Remember that time when…?” and “How great was it when…?!” the more you’ll make the new guy realize he’s new. Try to focus as much as possible on the present and future. Talk about where the group currently is, and the hopes you have for where you want them to be.
  • It’s not just awkward for the new guy. Chances are, your group may be a little uneasy about bringing in an “outsider” if they’re really well connected. Help them to see that they can’t be exclusive, and that everyone deserves an opportunity to be in a great youth group–even if it’s a little awkward at first.
  • Keep your lessons at a level everyone can understand. You may have students who’ve been Christians for a while and a new student might be new to this whole Christian thing. Keep your lessons interesting for both groups.

JG

 



Loved a new post over on Generation to Generation called Diffusing the Disruption that talked about helping keep order in your small group discussion time and dealing with problem students. Here’s a clip of it, head over there for the complete article:

  • Announce your expectations before there’s a disruption. Lay down the ground rules and let your students know what you expect them to do and what they can expect from you.
  • If a disruption happens first in group time, address it generally in group time. Don’t be too specific about that one student, but let everyone know that your expectations aren’t being met.
  • If it keeps happening, pull that student aside after the group is over. Don’t be specific with him or her in the moment, but don’t let it pass either.

JG

Really enjoyed this post over on Matt and Steven’s Generation to Generation blog about Life Group leaders taking on tough topics during small group night. Here’s part of how they take it on, head there for the rest:

 

  • PRAY PRAY PRAY – The best thing you can do to prepare is seek out God’s direction. Know where God wants to lead your students and how he wants to speak through you.
  • Consider changing your location – In my small group, we meet at one of the guy’s houses every week. When we’ve planned these sensitive discussions, we try to go somewhere else that we won’t be overheard. This puts all the guys way more at ease and helps them be more open.
  • Have a game plan – Don’t go into something like this without having some kind of plan set out ahead of time. If you go in blind, it could end up making things more awkward and then you flounder around looking for ways to move forward.

JG



Really enjoyed reading this post over on the Generation to Generation blog. They hit on two critical youth ministry concepts that you have to grasp early and often: follow up and follow though! Here’s a clip, head there for the whole article:

Sometimes one of my faults is not following up on things. I really need to write things down, keep things in my Outlook calendar to remind me to do something or to re-visit something I’ve started but not finished. Sometimes I get so busy with a new project that I forget to go back and make sure the old project I was working on is complete or if it needs some further attention. I need to do this with with my high school small group as well. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in presenting a new lesson or new scripture or a new life application that I forget to go back and see how my guys are doing with things we’ve already talked about.

I don’t forget about one of my guys who has been going through a tough time or dealing with a specific issue, I’m great at follow up with that, but sometimes I forget about the general topics we talk about. For instance a few weeks ago my guys asked if we could do a lesson on girls and dating and sex and what the Bible says about these things. We had a great lesson that night and I know I made them really think about how a relationship would look like and how to make sure that they put God in the center of all of their relationships. This past week I got a text from one of my guys asking some very specific questions about what the Bible says about an issue. That should have been my reminder that I need to follow up with all of them and see how they are doing with that topic. I need to build a reminder into each small group time to begin and ask questions about past topics and make sure everyone is still on task with prior topics.

Head over there for the rest of the thought!
JG

You have a porn problem in your youth group whether you know it or not. High school, junior high, college–it’s present at every age. No longer do students have to go looking for porn, because in today’s age, porn comes looking for them. It might not be an easy topic for most students to talk about, and you may need to find a different way to communicate with students in your group, but it’s a topic that needs to be discussed.

Over the past couple months, we have both taken a week to meet with our junior high and high school small groups to discuss God’s view of porn, how to avoid and battle the temptation, and open the door to conversation. Here are some things we did right, and also some things that we learned from:



Was talking to one of our awesome Life Group leaders last night about how he follows up with his small group of boys. I’m so glad he blogged about it, too, so you can share in our conversation. Here’s a clip from Matt’s post called “Quiet Time Challenge” over at Gen2Gen:

1. I text them all this morning to remind them what we had talked about and I’ll text them back tonight and ask them to tell me what they sacrificed today to find an extra 15 minutes for a quiet time. I’ll keep the text messages coming for the next 3-4 days.

2. We have a private Facebook page for our group, I’ve asked them to post what they are sacrificing. So far two of the 12 already have!

3. I don’t want to constantly harp on this to them, but I want to keep this idea going in their mind and get them to develop a quiet time as a daily habit. I know what a change it made it my life and I want them to experience the same thing.

JG


One of the coolest things I get to do at Saddleback Church is act as the director of our student ministry building that we call “The Refinery.” It has special meaning to me because this building was basically the brain child of one of my student ministry heroes, Doug Fields. The name “The Refinery” was chosen because we are refining young souls for Christ. The building is 50,000 square feet and was designed to look like an old run down refinery mill. I get calls from churches all over the country that are looking into a new student ministry building and they want to know what we did, how we did it and what would we do different. If you’re looking into changing or building a student ministry facility, here are some of my ideas:

1. Build as big a building as you can. Even if it means you cut back on furnishings or stuff you can add later. It’s less expensive to add furniture later than to add on to a building. During the construction of our building as construction costs were going up we cut down on the size of the building. It’s still a huge facility, but in three years we have out grown the building.

2. The Refinery is a ministry, NOT a building. That’s one of my catch phrases that I instill into the staff that work in our student building. The Refinery attracts students to our campus, students who might not otherwise step foot on a church campus. We invite the community to use the meeting rooms and the gym for “non-church” functions. Our local high schools use it for sports banquets and functions. It’s great exposure to students and it definitely brings them back to a weekend church service.

3. Video camera monitoring. We have 41 cameras throughout the building. It’s an easy way for us to monitor the entire building and keep an eye on things without students feeling a negative presence. We can easily see when a teenage boy and girl are “fellowshipping a little too close” and need to be told to “leave some room for Jesus between them.” If an incident happens we have video available to find out what exactly occurred and who was involved.

4. Staffing. This has been an issue for us since the day the building opened. I want staff working in the building to interface with students, talk to them, and play games with them. I want the building to be a place where students can come and have fun, feel safe, and meet friends, all while growing in their faith. We are in the process of trying to grow a volunteer program, but even with a church the size of Saddleback it’s hard to find volunteers.

5. Security. We have some policies in place so that we can insure the security of students in the building. For example, during service times (Saturday night and Sunday morning) the upstairs of the building where all the games are located is off limits to adults. Occasionally a parent will question us on this rule but we just explain its one of the ways we keep students (including their kids!) safe from any predators. Not something that’s easy to talk about but we have to consider all potential issues. We use a LOT of grace first and only resort to calling parents and sending kids home when we absolutely have to. We have to keep order and keep everyone safe, but we also want kids to be able to have fun!

Matt Reynolds is a Security Supervisor with Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and is also the Director of the Refinery — the Student Ministry Building at Saddleback. He is addicted to student ministry and blogs and teaches volunteer student ministry leaders with Steven Orel, who is also on staff at Saddleback Church. Their blog can be found at www.gentogenym.com.