We recently had a youth pastor ask us where to start with campus-based ministry. At the end of the day, our campus outreach program is based in 3 relationships:

Students: We work a ton through the Christian clubs on campus. I meet regularly with the leadership teams of each club and help them out with service projects (lunch trash pickup, writing encouraging letters to the staff, etc.) events, getting speakers, advertising, and I provide them with resources and connections. I help them think big and make sure they know that they are callable of HUGE things. I make sure I am available to help encourage them, pray with them, and help them work through any issues they might have.

Other on campus Christian organizations: The main organization in our area is Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They are awesome. They already have some roots laid out at our schools, making them a valuable ally. They recognize that they aren’t a church, so they love to point their students to local churches. So we make ourselves available to them in whatever way we can help. That could be giving them resources, providing connections, making our buildings available, prayer, or more. We help each other out. One of the things we are working on now is a leadership summit for all of the Christian club leaders in the area.

Staff/Administration: We consistently look for ways to build our relationships with schools. We are focusing right now on principals and ASB (student government) directors. Right now, I am meeting with all of the major principals and ASB directors in the area so that I am more than just a name in an email. I want to be able to build a friendship with them. I want them to know that they can trust us and that we are here to serve. Together, we brainstorm different ways that we can serve their campus, students, teachers, and staff. Besides the meetings, we have built relationships through simple things like Christmas cards. The service projects that we have done on their campuses have also been able to help our relationship.

Campus outreach is a slow build, high reward ministry. It takes time to build relationships and find a system but, once you do, the potential is limitless.

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Director at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.

Investing into the relationships that you have with your local high schools can be a total game changer for your ministry. To continue building our relationships, we are sending Christmas gifts to some of our local high schools. While we would love to give a gift to each member of the faculty, our budget only allows us to give a couple per school. This year, we decided to send gifts to the principals (because they run the school) and the ASB directors (because they put on the campus events).

To each person, we’re sending:

  • A Starbucks Card
  • Card with our Christmas service times on it
  • Handwritten note (communicating the three points listed below)
  • Contact information

Our gift isn’t extravagant, but I believe that the Lord can use it in huge ways. My prayer is that the recipient will know three things from getting our gift. I pray that they know:

We are thankful. I want them to know that our church is deeply thankful for what they do. I want to celebrate their passion for seeing students grow and develop. We know how hard it can be to work with high schoolers and how rarely words of appreciation are heard, so I want them to stay encouraged and know that we see what they do.

We are here. I want our schools to know that our church is here to serve in any way that we can. If they have a wall that needs to be painted, we want to paint it. If they are putting on a canned food drive, we want to promote it. If something happens to a student, staff member, or the school as a whole, we want to pray for them.

We care. I want them to know that we love their school and that we love them as an individual. This is huge for those that aren’t Christians. To them, our ministry isn’t representing just our church, but the Church as a whole. Every letter, phone call, service project, and cookie plate is a chance to reflect Christ’s love. Investing in these relationships can mean investing in incredible evangelism opportunities.

What is your ministry doing for your schools this Christmas?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Director at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.



As some of you know, this Wednesday was the annual event, See You at the Pole. SYATP (See You at the Pole) is a national day of prayer, where students come to school early to pray and worship together at their flagpole. Our ministry made a huge push for it this year and it turned out to be a huge win! I would promote SYATP to any youth group and here are a few reasons why:

-Unification. This event is geared towards uniting the Body of Christ at a school. One of the responsibilities of the student leader in charge of SYATP is to promote this event to all of the Christian clubs and organizations at the school. I think that when there are more than one Christian club at a school, there can be a rivalry that develops, but events like these, if done right, shatters this and helps them realize that they both have the same goal, to be a light and serve at their school. It is also fun to go and meet and build relationships with students and youth pastors from the area… you can never have too many friends!

-Long Term Results. While SYATP is a totally awesome program, it is only once a year. What we wanted to see happen was a fire sparked in the campus’ heart. We wanted this to inspire the Body at their school to love and serve their school in a way that they haven’t before. What was cool was seeing students posting their ideas on how to keep things like this going. There have already been talks of a campus prayer walk at one of our schools!

-Leadership Experience. SYATP is a completely student lead activity, which I LOVE. The cool thing is that the SYATP website (syatp.com) sets students up for success. It has a checklist of all of the things you need to do/think about when you are planning the event at your school. One of the cool things about this event is that it is a success/fail opportunity. One key element of growing leaders is giving them the freedom to fail. As their pastor, we are willing to help if they ask, but we can’t waste these unique opportunities to build up leaders. Failure doesn’t always mean the event is a complete disaster; failure can look like weak programming, bad promotion, poor team communication, etc. We just need to be there to help them learn from their mistakes so that the experience wasn’t in vain.

I am a huge believer in See You at the Pole and I hope that it is something that you at least look into for the schools in your area! Do you have a story from a See You at the Pole event?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.

This year, our ministry has taken on a stronger focus on campus outreach. The main way that we are ministering to the local high schools is through our students, more specifically, our student leaders. Luckily, our student leaders already had a passion for ministering to their campus, all we needed to do was focus that passion and turn it into action.

In order to do that, we had a student leadership meeting that focused only on school outreach. We split them up by high school and gave them one sheet of paper. Each school had to work together as a team to answer five questions. But before we had them fill anything out, we gave them 20 minutes to have a quiet time and reflect on the things that Jesus has done in their lives or is doing in their lives. A huge aspect of focusing passion is to help them discover/remember why they are doing ministry. They need to fully put their faith in Christ and trust that He is still working in this world. They need to recognize that what they want to be doing at their school will be impossible to execute apart from God.

From there, we had them answer the five questions. Below are the questions we asked and the answers we got from a student at a near-by Catholic private school:

1. What are the unreached people groups at your school?
a. Kids who grew up in catholic homes, but their parents so not follow the religion, so they do not know what to believe
b. Kids who don’t have many friends
c. Transfer students

2. What are the needs of high schoolers?
a. Friends, to take away stress with family and school etc
b. Family, to always be there and provide
c. Acceptance

3. Do we believe that we are called to meet those needs? Why?
a. Yes because as Christians God has called us to share the good news, and by helping students fulfill their needs, we are shining the light of Christ.

4. What has been keeping you from meeting these needs in the past?
a. Don’t want to bring it up because it feels awkward
b. Feel like I will be asked a question I couldn’t answer
c. Most of the kids grew up non-practicing catholic and it is hard to talk to them about Christ because they do not think that there is anything more to their relationship with Christ.

5. MISSION STATEMENT
Our mission is to redefine what is means to be a follower of Christ and make the students at my school’s religion a relationship with Christ rather than a task

Note: We had our homeschooled students answer these questions about their personal lives, writing a mission statement for their life. We are SO stoked to see what our students do for their schools this year!

How is your ministry helping students minister to their schools?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.



One of the most important administrative steps of any youth leader is the development of a yearly planner. Taking some time each spring/summer to plan out the next school year’s calendar (August – May) holds countless benefits for you, your students, your volunteers, and your church leadership.

Consider the value of strategically laying out a well-planned Ministry/School Year Calendar:

  • Communicates you value students’ busy lives.
  • Allows you to effectively communicate details with parents.
  • Helps you budget more accurately.
  • Provides opportunity to begin promoting events earlier.
  • Forces your hand to strategize various ministry events.
  • Reinforces your leadership ability to superiors.
  • Promotes better work/personal life balance (family appointments, out-of-town schedules, etc).

And yet, developing a Yearly Calendar is neglected by far too many youth leaders and pastors. For some, they don’t recognize the benefits because they’ve never experienced them. But for others, the process just seems too difficult… planning events 8-9 months in advance appears too daunting of a challenge. Be encouraged, many of your colleagues around the country are proving the challenge is not too difficult. And with the right system, you can accomplish it too.

I’ve used the exact same process every spring for the past 15 years to produce a calendar for the next school year. And I’ve found that the whole project can be accomplished in 5 completely achievable steps.

  1. Create an editable calendar document displaying each month of the upcoming school year with clearly labeled holidays. I recommend using a landscape-view displaying 2 months on each page. This allows room for a readable font, but still hangs nicely in your office without taking too much space. I also recommend using the Tables function in a simple word processor to create the template. This allows opportunity to insert text and a variety of shading opportunities. To get you started, here’s the template I’ve used for years (.doc / .pages). 
  2. Track down your local school’s district calendar typically located on their website. Import the important dates onto your calendar marking school vacation days with a consistent shade of gray (again, creating your calendar as a table in Word or Pages makes this shading simple). Be sure to label the first day of school, last day of school, vacation days, and testing weeks if applicable.
  3. Import your regular-occurring ministry calendar programs. Your ministry likely has a weekly/monthly schedule of events (think Sunday Mornings, Small Groups, Wednesday nights, Monthly Trainings, etc.). Begin populating your yearly planner by inserting them on your calendar template. Simply create the title, then copy (Ctrl-C) and paste (Ctrl-V) on to each appropriate day.
  4. Schedule/record any overnight trips for your youth ministry. Some of these overnight events occur on a yearly recurring basis. For example, my ministry goes on a weekend retreat every January and a week-long high school trip in July. Scheduling those on the calendar are easy – they occur every year at the same time. For the overnight trips that don’t recur yearly but you still plan to accomplish, your calendar template will help you select the most strategic week/weekend for each trip.
  5. Schedule the rest of your events for the ministry year. Your final step involves scheduling and recording everything else: outreach events, special parties, unique Sundays, and whole church festivities (just to name a few). This will, of course, be the most difficult of the five steps and will take the most amount of time and foresight. But take heart, with the first four steps completed, you’ll be surprised how quickly this last step flows. Once you can glance at the entire yearly planner in front of you, you’ll find the rest of your events almost schedule themselves.

Once completed, your calendar will quickly become one of the most important documents in your office as it helps provide clarity to your disciple-making strategy and decision-making process. But don’t leave it hanging on your bulletin board. Make sure it finds its way into the hands of your students, parents, and volunteers. You’ll be glad you did… and so will they.

Joshua Becker is a veteran youth pastor who has served churches in Wisconsin, Vermont, and Arizona. He blogs regularly at Becoming Minimalist where he encourages others to find more life by owning fewer possessions. You may also enjoy following him on Twitter.

Let’s face it.  If you’re in ministry you either have or will drive the bus. Here are 6 ways getting a job as a substitute school bus driver will just enhance your ministry potential.

1. You’ll connect with students by driving them to and from school.

It’s time you got out the office and used your time more wisely!  By working as a bus driver,  you’ll spend way more time connecting with students.  You’ll hear their conversation!  You’ll see them interact!  And you’ll learn about their world.  What’s the latest pop culture reference?  What are they excited or concerned about?  What major events happened during the day?  There’s not enough time to learn about this stuff on Sunday morning or Wednesday night.  And reading about it only takes your time away from students.  More interaction is what you need.  Bus driving is the key.

2. You’ll connect with the school officials by working for the district.

Connecting with school officials can be a daunting challenge.  You can always connect with students outside school hours but chances are you’ll never meet a school official outside of school.  By becoming a bus driver you’ll learn more about the ins and outs of your schools employees and programs than was ever thought possible as the outsider.  You’ll interact with staff.  You’ll get to know them personally.  You’ll become intimately acquainted with the school calendar.   When’s the next dance or week of testing?  This is good stuff to know and all too easy to miss.

3. You’ll receive valuable training and certification through your employer.

As a youth pastor we require training and certifications that are sometimes hard to come by.  Some are just easy to overlook.  When was the last time, for instance, you were trained in CPR and first aid?  Others are expensive.   My state, for instance, has made it difficult to obtain a bus drivers license.  Gone are the days when you could walk into the DMV, read a book and take an exam.  It now requires training by state certified instructors.  Courses run around 2,000 dollars.  There is another option though.  School bus barns have these instructors by which they train their employees. By becoming a school bus driver you can earn a valuable commercial drivers license and stay on top of CPR and first aid certification.

4. You’ll leave your best time available for students by working bus hours.

Secondary jobs can be a pain when you’re in youth ministry.  They tie you down and take up valuable hours when students are free from school.  But that’s what so cool about working as a substitute school bus driver.  You work both a little before and little after school.  The heart of the day is free to plan your next staff meeting, event or message.  You’re also free to plan events when students are available.  Don’t forget you’re off when students are off – weekends, holidays, summer vacations.  Finally as a substitute you’re free to choose those days that work best for you.  If an emergency arises, you just tell them you won’t be available.

5. You’ll supplement your small ministry salary by a second part-time job.

We do what we do because we love it, not because of the money.  But money is still important.   Bills are bills and sometimes youth ministry salaries just don’t cut it.  School bus driving is a great way to supplement your income without taking away from what you  love doing best.  The money could also help you to run a little farther.

6. You’ll raise needed youth funds through a second job.

And of course if money is not an issue for you or your church doesn’t want you moon lighting on a second job, the wages you earn could always make a much needed contribution to the youth ministry budget.  Can I hear an “Amen!”

 

Your thoughts?

Matthew Miller is a youth pastor who drives bus and blogs at Logos Made Flesh. Be sure to check out his blog for youth ministry insights as well!



Just a reminder to all in student ministry that we HAVE got to get on their turf… Meaning go to their school, go to their games, go to where they are. This is the best way to show your students that you love
them and that you’re interested in what they are about. Don’t let the excuse of “the school won’t let us come.” You can go to games, recitals, plays, chess matches (well, maybe not that) but you get the point.

When I hear youth pastors say we just don’t have any students coming. I’m always asking youth guys when the last time you were involved in what your students do, in their extracurricular activities or a
school lunch. Remember that students just don’t SHOW UP!! They need to know who you are and that you care, and that you are putting effort into their life, once you do this they will be more open to coming to the student
ministry. So as you are planning the fall semester, plan to go to school lunches, to bring popsicles to football and volleyball practices, plan to get on their turf…

Remember ministry doesn’t happen in the office, if happens where the students are!

Michael Head is the Youth Pastor at Second Baptist Church Houston. Hit him up on Twitter at @mycoolhead.

I have spent the last season of my Ministry doing some retrospection, especially when it comes to my values and beliefs coming through in how we teach, what we teach and what we give platform time to. What I have discovered and been struggling with is that I do not feel called to be an overseas missionary neither short or long term. I see tremendous value in Missions, seeing the lost saved, and seeing people freed from bondage through Jesus. But I have been wrestling with whether not it’s okay that I feel no burden to go. But also, is this coming through in us valuing or not valuing global Missions to the extent we should as a Ministry

I am a Pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination, which I suppose makes it stranger that I feel the way I do about Missions. My wife has been to Africa, spent time on the property that our Church owns there; she feels a burden for the people there that I don’t. I can fake it, but its just not there for me right now.

But what is becoming more obvious to me is that the burden that God has put on my heart is much narrower and more focused and I am feeling more and more that this is by design. When we teach our students about ‘the lost’ and ‘making disciples of all nations’ we often talk about overseas, but for me the reality is there are 4000 ‘lost’ teenagers within 15 minutes driving from my office. I find often times Churches will spend a lot of money on overseas projects, yet we forget the brokenness that exists in our own communities.

What if we invested more resources on this Missions field, the statistics prove its worth it in that about 75% of people who give their lives to Jesus will do so before High School is over. How is this not the most urgent thing we can do as the Church?

God has called me to be a Youth Pastor, he has given me a focused passion for seeing the lives of the students in my community transformed by the power of Jesus. I don’t apologize for, or try and explain why I am not going to Africa this summer. Missions trips and Missions work is powerful stuff, but it should be for people who are called to be there, who will take what they have seen and start a movement of change. The last thing a Missions trip needs is someone on vacation.

Please don’t think that we don’t promote missions, I have several volunteers that have been Missionaries, or been overseas short-term, they lead the charge, and they lead from authentic, God placed passion for ‘the lost’ outside of our community and country.

This is my burden and my passion, the High School Mission Fields we work in are dangerous, volatile and hostile but they are frontline of where God is moving, I am leading this charge in our ministry, from a place of authentic, God place passion for these students. My calling may be narrow, but focus is good, and its hard to be great a lot of things.

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.