I recently hired a junior high pastor for our church. The process was long and tiring but now I am nearing the finish line…just one more thing to do before I close this file. I need to communicate the hire.  The levels I need to communicate to are:

  • My team (Verbal Communication)
  • Church Staff (Digital Communication)
  • Congregation (Digital/email Communication)
  • Parents (Mail, and Parent Meeting)

My Team:
This was easy.  They knew I was looking and even met with candidates as I was bringing them in. That said, it is easy to assume that those closest to you just know…sometimes they don’t. It is important to keep those close to you in the loop.

Church Staff and Congregation:
I sent the same basic letter to church staff, the congregation, and our parents. Our staff received and email and our congregation will hear about the hire through the website and our eNews email.

Parents did not receive any digital communication, they have access to the web and will receive our eNews, they received a parent letter. The added communication to parents is in the form of a parent gathering.  Cookies, carbonated beverages, coffee and a brief introduction with lots of mingling. This personal touch is so important for parents.

Here is what we sent in our parent letter:

Junior High Parents!


As you may know, we have been searching for a junior high pastor for nearly a year; a person to partner with parents, train up students, and bring a fresh wind into our junior high ministry.  After many hours of seeking, sifting, meeting and praying we have found God’s person for the position.

Please join me in welcoming (PERSON’S NAME) as our newest youth ministry team member.  (PERSON) will be taking the Junior High position as of (DATE).  He will oversee the entire junior high ministry at (CHURCH OR CAMPUS NAME).

(NAME) grew up in (TOWN). He has been serving as the (PREVIOUS JOB OR SCHOOL) at (CHURCH NAME OR SCHOOL NAME) in (TOWN) since (DATE). During his time at (CHURCH OR SCHOOL) (PERSON’S NAME) has attended (SCHOOL) working toward a (NAME OF DEGREE) degree.

I am eager for (PERSON’S NAME)’s arrival and am excited to see how God shapes student ministries in the months to come.  Please pray for us and with us as (CHURCH NAME) student ministries moves forward in this new season.

You and your junior high student are invited to come meet (PERSON) at the (CHURCH OR LOCATION) on (DATE) at (TIME). Refreshments will be served. Hope you can come!

Brandon Early


Final Thought:
Youth ministry gets a bad warp for beings irresponsible and too silly at times.  When communicating to parents I raise the bar on professionalism, I want them to trust me with their kids so I don’t try to be edgy and super funny in letters to parents. I recommend that if you add a photo of the person you hired, I wouldn’t choose one with him or her in a suit and tie (which may be appropriate in your setting) but I also wouldn’t send out an obnoxious, crazy pic either. This is all a precursor to building trust.

If it will help you, feel free to download a template of my “New Staff Parent Letter” here.

Thought this post over on Junior High Ministry was super and totally worth the read. Kurt has some great points about how ownership increases the excellence, even when the program potentially suffers. GEnius observation, here’s a clip before you head that way:

What you wouldn’t have seen much of is excellence; at least not in the way it is traditionally defined! The worship team struggled quite a bit, the guys in the tech room were consistently a slide (or two or three) behind at any given moment in the service, My microphone kept popping and getting feedback, and Saturday after church our cupcake girl shared that she wouldn’t be able to be there on Sunday.and hoped we’d still be willing to sell her cupcakes (which we did, of course).

Our visiting youth pastors are rarely impressed with the level of excellence they witness. I’m surprised, though, at how often they comment on the level of student involvement and ownership happening.

I share this to remind you that as you lead your junior high ministry you have a decision to make, and how you answer is determined mostly by what you value. Do you want your ministry to be marked by excellence or by ownership?




Weekend Teaching Series: Workshop Weekend (1-off)

Sermon in a Sentence: This weekend we had 4 messages – students got to choose which one they would hear.

Understandable Message: This weekend we had a couple videos and a couple songs, then divided up the students into1 of 4 workshops for them to hear about a topic they chose for the weekend:

1. The Comparison Trap: A workshop about the dangers of comparing yourself to your siblings, classmates, celebrities, etc. Learning about how to appreciate who God created you to be. Even showed the Dove video.

2. Modern Day Compassion: Learning to have compassion on other people because everyone has a story. Everyone has their own struggles. They went through Bible stories of compassion and learned how to compare them to everyday life.

3. Judging: Good or Bad? We all have heard about judging being wrong. It can be hard to live out. So they took an in-depth look at what the Bible says about it. Learn how and why God calls us to stay away from judging.

4. Self: Compassion: Learning how to let go of what you’re holding onto. God has forgiven you, and you should forgive yourself as well. The workshop helped students understand God’s love better through teaching them about God’s compassion for us. It is hard to have compassion on others if we can’t have compassion on ourselves.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: Didn’t have much in this department this week – pretty straightforward service for sake of time. Good stuff!

Music Playlist:  Holy Moment, Like an Avalanche, All I Am

Favorite Moment: Seeing students and leaders team-teach the workshops was SO cool. LOVED this idea. It isn’t sexy or flashy like some of our other stuff, but I like it a lot.

Up next: Crazytown (series premiere, week 1 of 3)


I’m so excited about this! About a year ago I had this fun idea that we create a senior calendar to show where students are headed after they graduate from high school. One of the challenges of our youth ministry is keeping track of students once we get to the finish line – we were hoping this was a way we could celebrate and build community for students as they finished up. Ashley is one of the students who heads up the Create Ministry in our youth group and put in a ton of time making this random idea a reality. We started using it this weekend at youth group – during services students could fill out little cards with their information on it and drop it into a small collection bucket. Ashley or one of the other student leaders would then make pins for their school and/or add them to an existing school already on the map. For some seniors who have already dropped out of youth group (argh) we’re trying to get their information from Instagram and Facebook so it is complete as possible.

So in addition to the visual display for the next two months, we could use use the information to keep in contact with students all over the US, send care packages and help them find Christian community more quickly, too. It has already been such a fun exercise – I’m sure it will become one of the most interesting places for people to check out as they walk through our church.

Here’s a closer look at it, notice how each state is themed in some way in the fabric choice – the attention to detail is insane!


I absolutely love how it turned out, and a much simpler version could be made with a $10 map and pushpins if you want to get one up in your ministry by next weekend. I hope this is something you steal or inspires you to do something even cooler in your church!


Loved this video made by our students to help promote the You Own the Weekend series when Mission Viejo took over. So good!


How, when, and why do you split middle school and high school?

Lots of different takes on this question – you can read one here and another one here. What do I think? As soon as possible.

There are just too many reasons you should divide your students into separate programs – developmentally a 13-year old kid and a 18-year old adult are worlds apart. While I like the idea of occasionally doing events or services together there I love the wins of programs that meet their needs specifically. I’m sure my colleagues here in this Slant will cover those well.

But there are a ton of excuses why we don’t want to make the jump to two programs! Here are a few common reasons people don’t and I hope a few ideas to help you fight through them:

You’ll never have enough room
Dividing your youth group in half is going to create some logistical pressure right out of the gate. Don’t let that be an excuse! What about starting all together for half the service (music, announcements, etc) and diving up into smaller areas after that? If your church has multiple services – what about having junior high during one service time and and high school at the other? Or what if you did senior high in the middle of the week and junior high on Sunday mornings. Figuring this out is going to take work!

You’ll never have enough volunteers
Making a youth program specifically for junior high and high school is going to take more people. It is hard enough to find enough as it is! What if you asked your current leaders to find a second leader? What if you asked your students whom they would like as a leader? What if you asked a few of your children’s ministry workers who work with the older children to move up with them and into your new ministry? People will always be a challenge; don’t let that be an excuse to not start a separate program.

You’ll never have enough budget
Wait … you have a youth group budget? First, say a little prayer of thanks to God that you’ve even got that … and then start to think creatively about how to stretch the few dollars you’ve got. Do all of your events combined still so you save on reservations and can use better group discounts. Adapt resources you buy for high school. Find reliable, low-cost youth ministry tools that can help your youth ministry.

You’ll never have enough time
How am I supposed to prepare 2 different messages this week? Two programs? I’m just a volunteer myself – how can I take basically another youth group on myself? And that’s exactly the point … you can’t. You shouldn’t. Don’t! Give the leadership of one of the youth group halves to someone else. Groom that up and coming volunteer or intern from the Bible College down the road. Maybe even a student leader (preferably a senior) who is ready to take it on. You’ll need to increase your bandwidth to oversee them, but don’t make the mistake of feeling like you have to be the point person for both.

So when should you split? Set a target date for this fall and start working through some of the obstacles … it’ll totally be worth it.


HUGE rivalries this week in our local high schools – made another fun video to celebrate. This series will slow down after football season, but has been so much fun all fall!


(this review was written by AC since I was away this weekend – be sure to check out his blog, too!)

Weekend Teaching Series:  I Am __________ (week 3 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Bullying is not just wrong it’s evil, and we are commanded as believers to standup for those who can’t do it on their own.

Service Length: 75 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we covered Bullying. We had a guest speaker named Paul Coughlin.  He is the founder of The Protectors an organization that helps family’s, schools and churchs deal with the issue of bullying.  He gave our students a biblical perspective on bullying,  he really educated our students on what bullying is and what it is not.  Finally, he gave practical ways students could standup to bullying.  One of the ways he stressed was for our students to partner up with a friend at school and standup for each other.  Also, if they saw someone else being bullied that they would standup for that person together.  He also challenged students who wanted to do more to signup for more info on how to do more in their schools.  We had 60 plus students signup.  Very proud of our students for taking a stance against bullying.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We did a Taylor Swift cover as an opener “Mean”.  We played a couple of fun new videos – one was the 3rd episode of HSM’s Sports Minute featuring local school sports updates with a crazy twist and the other was an announcement video for our Halloween outreach event.

Music Playlist: Hosannah, Never Let Go, Our God

Favorite Moment: The song choices after the message this weekend were absolutely perfect. I really felt like the message continued right into the 3 songs – super powerful ending to the message!

Up next: Worship Together Weekend [1-off]