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.

Just Believe

Josh Griffin —  April 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

article.2013.04.02This is the time of year many youth workers get disillusioned with their ministry. Another job opportunity piques interest or the thought of working a simple 9-5 becomes a little intoxicating to think about. The fun of the fall kickoff is in the rear view mirror; the big events have died down while students hunker down for the last couple months of the school year. The grass looks greener everywhere else, and you start to get down on yourself or look for a way out.

Feel familiar? If it does, read on and find some hope to fight the Spring-time itch:

Believe in your calling.
You are called to do ministry you are made for this! You stand shoulder to shoulder in the long line of incredible men and women God has used to further his kingdom. Satan is an expert at kicking us while we’re down, and he will also try to kick us during the down times of the ministry season.

I (Kurt) have found that the early spring is often the time of the year that I find myself a little frustrated in ministry; and it’s in these times Satan likes to kick me. Reminding myself of my calling and thanking God for allowing me to play a role in his kingdom is the best way to kick back.

Believe in your church.
You are called to your church maybe not for the rest of your life, but don’t let anyone else know that. Serve like you will be there for the rest of your life. When something happens to make you question that calling (maybe an unsupportive leader or discouraged pastor) make sure you get it all out on the table so it doesn’t fester inside and eventually cause damage. Maybe take some time today to reflect on the early days of hope and joy when you first started working with these students and believe again.

Believe in your people.
You have the right people in your church to build a great team of youth workers. Believe in them enough to value their time, encourage them well and train them for the challenges of working with students. Pray for your leadership team before you delete this email, and send them an encouraging note letting them know you did!

Believe in students.
Students are young and immature sometimes they say things quickly that sting or hurt you with their na’ve words, unaware of the verbal damage they have caused. There may need to be a confrontation or a challenge to maturity, but chances are they need a leader who will love them and be long-suffering in his/her guidance over the long haul. Believe God has given you the right students to change your community for him.

I (Josh) started a fantastic spring tradition in our ministry a few years ago: For five weeks in a row our students are in charge of every aspect of our church services. Seeing them rise to the occasion always renews my belief in the teenagers God has called me to serve.

Not sure what you’re facing this Spring or maybe we just needed to say some things to ourselves today. Just believe.

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.2013.03.27There’s nothing more challenging interpersonally than dealing with a serious conflict with someone on your church staff, or a volunteer in a key position in your ministry. The temptation would be to let time heal it, or hope that the tension would simply go away on its own—but fight those feelings because conflict in the church, especially on a team, has to be dealt with well in order for genuine progress to be made.

Can’t we all just get along? Actually, no, and that’s probably a good thing because it forces us to tackle conflict in a God-honoring manner. Here are some steps to move toward resolution when you find yourself in conflict with someone on staff.

Be the bigger person.

Someone is going to have to lead with humility—might as well be you. How would this relationship change if you decided to take action and humble yourself (right or wrong in the matter that caused the division, either way), and begin a conversation to rebuild trust and love? Until someone does this, any progress will just be an outward act covering up a pain-filled heart. Unresolved conflict eats away at your job satisfaction, your vision, and your heart. Don’t let it happen!

Take a small step forward.

A simple note, gesture, or gift can go a long way. Could you find an excuse to give them a small token of your love for them—even if it’s never acknowledged or reciprocated? Continually take small steps forward—mixed with time this is a powerful way to break down walls.

Talk them up to other people.

People can usually sniff out when someone is in tension with another person—in fact, most churches specialize in spreading that information around gleefully, it seems. When you talk positively about the person in conflict, you are disarming the potential for a greater divide in the church, and not forcing people to take sides. Plus, it is surprising (and won’t take long) for word to get back to that person, too!

Pray for healing.

Too often the “right” answer is to pray for the situation—in this case, it’s no different. You have to ask God to mend what is broken and heal what areas are infected. Conflict between people who work together every day can, and has, claimed many churches—don’t let yours be one of them!

Re-read yesterday’s article.
And by the way, a whole bunch of what we wrote yesterday concerning dealing with a disappointed parents can also apply to resolving conflict on your ministry team. Here’s an example:

Kurt: “Josh, I can understand why you FEEL threatened by my physical stature.”
Kurt: “In fact, Josh, other people on our team have FELT the same way.”
Kurt: “Here’s what I’ve FOUND: As long as you don’t tick me off…you have nothing to be afraid of.”

See…It’s simple!

Who do you need to take a small step forward with today?

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.2013.03.19If you’re like us, it takes you 45 minutes to spill all of the details of the 60-minute workshop you attended that changed your life last week at a youth conference. Inspired by it, you lay out a vision for your youth ministry for the next five years. The volunteers sit there like a deer in the headlights; then one of them timidly raises her hand, “Sounds like somebody went to a youth worker conference last week,” she says.

It happens! Sometimes at an incredible event we come down with a case of Let’s Change Everything Syndrome (LCES). If you’ve ever had LCES, you know the temptation to overhaul every aspect of your ministry in the first five days after you get back. Beware of the side effects: volunteer abandonment, blurry vision and upset supervisors.

Post-conference excitement is natural, and there’s nothing wrong with the desire to make changes when we’ve been exposed to new ideas. But LCES can do more harm than good. Here are a few tips to avoid it.

Pray about what God is asking you to do.
Sometimes after reading an incredible book or hearing an inspiring speaker we think about what we want to do as a result or what worked for them instead of what God’s voice is clearly directing. The only way to distinguish between competing visions is to spend time with God and ask for his vision. Usually taking some time to process, decompress, and pray are the best steps to hearing from him after you’ve been exposed to new ideas.

Wait for the right season to change.
The right time for changes is typically not the Spring or the middle of Fall (which, coincidently is when lots of training events happen). Think strategically about when to bring about significant changes to your ministry. Lay an infrastructure for the move to small groups all summer long; then release them in January. Prepare your volunteers for the junior high/senior high split at the start of the school year this Fall, rather than eagerly announcing it out of the blue tonight at youth group.

Start with one thing.
Reflect in your Moleskin journal or iPad app on some of the biggest things you learned at the event, or conversations you were inspired by. Make a list of everything that is considered an “action step” and prioritize them and map out a 1-2 year plan of action. Update it occasionally as you retreat or receive additional training and insight.

Keep a dialogue going.
Don’t make changes in isolation! While the church might not have been able to send your whole volunteer team to an event, take the time to share your “one thing” with your spouse, your volunteers, or student leaders. Once you’ve taken the ball down the court, don’t be afraid to rally support and analyze it to make the ideas better and increase ownership.

Any learnings you want to share after coming home from a youth worker training event?

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.2013.03.12One of the questions we are often asked is: How do you get it all done? To be honest, no one gets it all done. But, we have come up with a few techniques over the years to help us squeeze more into each day. This week we want to take a little time to help you boost your productivity.

Turn off notifications
Notifications are the derailment of getting stuff done. And while you may pride yourself on giving quick answers and having instant follow-up, what you are actually doing is interrupting continued focused thought in one particular area. Try prepping your next sermon using iA Writer (iawriter.com) and see if the focus helps you prepare faster and more effectively.

Do email in bursts.
Similar to the “turn off notifications” idea: Only check your email a few times a day. This one is harder than ever with that little “new email” icon or unread number calling out your name to check it incessantly all day. Stop the email madness! Do email in the morning, noon, at the end of the workday and just before bed and you can knock out a bunch in one block rather than let it persist all day.

Never eat alone.
Everyone has to eat lunch! So make your productivity matter even over your lunch hour. Spend time with a mentor, a student, a volunteer, your spouse, one of your kids—make every meal count.

Manage your meeting times.
It doesn’t take long for a meeting to turn into a marathon, so master the subtle ways to help move them along. Ask good questions, make sure there is a clear objective beforehand, and don’t be afraid to help bring it to a conclusion so you can be on time for the FCA meeting or volleyball game coming up next.

Get out of the office.

Have a secret location that no one knows about where you go to “get stuff done.” Starbucks by the church is a little too obvious for me—I (Josh) love a little Boba place around here that is quiet, has free wi-fi, and no one has any idea where I’m at for a few hours to crank stuff out. I can be ultra productive there and get totally in the zone.

Open your door/close your door.
I love the “open door policy” of our church, but there are certain times it just isn’t a realistic option. Don’t be afraid to close your door 20% of the time to help you get things done without interruption.

What is your best tip for productivity?

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.2013.03.05Madonna. Walkmans. TV dinners. Land lines. Bowl cuts. MC Hammer. Star Wars.

Lady Gaga. iPods. Starbucks. iPhones. The Fade. LMFAO. Hipsters. Hunger Games.

When we were in high school, things were a little different—instead of iPads we used wide-margin notebook paper, and our collection of 75 CDs of music was stored in twin towers of jewel cases. The idea of storing 5-kajillion songs on our phone would have caused our heads to explode!

One of the most intimidating aspects of youth ministry is understanding youth culture. One of the biggest roadblocks that potential volunteers face when joining your ministry is determining if they still “get it.”

Here’s the good news right up front: You don’t have to be culturally relevant, but it may be helpful to know the world your students are living in. Here are a few ideas to help you connect with their culture quickly:

  • Find out what shows your students watch and watch 10 minutes of each every now and then.
  • Watch the MTV Movie Awards (or similar show) for a quick burst of culture…and a quick shock to your system.
  • Pay attention to the commercials directed towards teenagers—what are they selling to students?
  • Browse the magazines your students are reading.
  • Stroll through a local mall and window shop at stores aimed at teens.
  • Pick a student up after school for a Starbucks…get there a little early and just observe/listen.
  • Join Facebook!
  • Surf the Internet—visit sites that your students frequent.
  • Go to the local movie theater on a Friday night.
  • Ask questions.

The bottom line is simply this: The more you understand about the world today’s junior high and high school students live in, and the more you are willing to remember about yourself at that age, the more effective you will be as a minister.

Even though technology, music, and clothes have changed…the need for love, acceptance and encouragement in a student’s life hasn’t changed a bit. Blessings as you minister today!

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.



thisbookgetsaround

THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS? THINK YOUR FRIENDS KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU? THINK AGAIN!

This Book Gets Around is a fun way to learn something new about your friends or family members, neighbors, co-workers, teammates, whoever! (You might even uncover one or two surprising things about yourself, too.)

Pass the book around, let people answer imaginative questions and do some creative activities, and then see what’s written on the pages.

— Buy This Book Get’s Around Now!—

Give the book to specific people or let it follow a random path back to you whatever way you use it is fine. Get the fun started today, and discover something cool, unusual, surprising, or amazing about the people you already know!

Order This Book Get’s Around for YOUR Youth Group Today!

About the Author:

kurt_johnson_NEW_bw KURT JOHNSTON has been in youth ministry since 1988 and currently leads the student ministry team at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. His ministry of choice is the junior high department, where he tries to spend approximately 87.4% of his time. Kurt and his wife, Rachel, have been married for a long time and have two children: Kayla, a college student, and Cole, who’s in high school.

Enjoy!

Stephanie

yhst-95977426524948_2249_4827794At the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this past weekend they released Kurt Johnston’s new book for students, This Book Gets Around. They created a

This Book Gets Around is a fun way to learn something new about your friends or family members, neighbors, co-workers, teammates, whoever! (You might even uncover one or two surprising things about yourself, too.)

Pass the book around, let people answer imaginative questions and do some creative activities, and then see what’s written on the pages.

Give the book to specific people or let it follow a random path back to you—whatever way you use it is fine. Get the fun started today, and discover something cool, unusual, surprising, or amazing about the people you already know!

JG