It’s nice and sunny out. You’ve got shorts and sandals on and you kick back and relax with your laptop, some good tunes and a drink from Starbucks. This is your favorite part of doing youth ministry. Summertime Ministry.

Now don’t get me wrong this is me a good number of days out of the summer. I love to work from the park or beach and just relax and absorb some sun. However I think it is important not to get to relaxed over the summertime. Many youth workers come upon their demise during summer. It is either the time when they are fired or it is a time when things start to crumble around them.

I think this is because sometimes excellence can be lost during the summer. Students are off in different directions, many ministries shut down their programs and some youth workers don’t even see a single student during the summer. This to me is a problem. Not shutting down programs, or youth being off in different directions. But the lack of excellence.

It is important to strive for excellence in everything we do. Whether you spend your summer prepping your teaching arc and calendar for the next school year, or you are still running programs full tilt. You need to be doing it to the best of your abilities, which can be hard with the many distractions of summer.

Here are some ways in which I am striving to hit excellence this summer:

  • Meet with students on a regular scheduled basis over the summer. (Might be different students, on different days) I want to touch base with as many students as possible so they know I am part of their life, not just wanting them for their number.
  • Put some creative juices into our fall calendar. I want next year to have some new and fresh events we have never done before. I am also hoping that we teach some things in fresh new ways to kick off the year in an impactful way for our students. And I want to plan out my teaching now to try to carry and build that momentum all through the year. I don’t want to piece it together as I go.
  • Read something for me! I love to read but over this last little bit my reading has been focused on Seminary texts and articles for a class I have been taking and another one I have been teaching. I want to read something that will inspire my creativity and bring a new energy to my brain.
  • Keep my boss and coworkers in the loop. Summer can be a little disconnected for our team here at the church. Different people going on different vacations, running programs differently and it can create hiccups. So my goal is to keep my boss and co workers in the loop with what I am doing and where I am going. And I am even going to touch base with my boss in ways that are meaningful to him (Read here about an article on this)

I hope that you all have a refreshing summer of fun and family. But I also hope that you have a season of ministry excellence whether it is a season of regular programming or slowed down and meticulous planning.

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

You are slammed with things that need to get done, there is a parent that just won’t get off your case, or perhaps you just have heard more negative than positive lately. It sounds like you could use some encouragement.

I know a lot of youth workers right now who are going through a season of needing encouragement. For some it is because of the season; going into summer you are tired; for others its situational. No matter what the reason you deserve some encouragement.

I just want to encourage all my fellow youth workers volunteer or paid: You are doing good work. You are doing what God has called you to do. You are making a difference in the lives of students even when you feel like you are getting no where. You are gifted no matter what your critics say, your God created you to be just the way you are. What you are doing is worthwhile.

Now for some of you, that isn’t enough. For others that is a good reminder. But I hope no matter who you are you know those things are true.

I also want to share a strategy I learned from someone else to get through discouraging times.

Create a folder in your email that has encouragement emails. Every time someone sends you an email that has some kind of encouragement put it in this folder. Then when you go through tough times you can look in that folder and be reminded of good things.

While it may not fix anything, it certainly helps to be reminded by the voices in your ministry and in your life that you have value and so does what you are doing.

What are some of your strategies for times of discouragement?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle



Lev-er-age

Verb: Use borrowed capital for (an investment), expecting the profits made to be greater than the interest payable

  • What are you willing to do to get something you really want?
  • Are you willing to finish a project or lose some weight before the new Xbox one comes out?
  • Are you willing to put away some money now so you can retire later?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice the state of your house, so youth can feel welcomed and loved by you?

My guess is that you have a lot of things you are willing to give that cost a little now, in order to see big rewards later. So why do you think it would be any different with the students you work for.

You want them to read their Bibles more, you want them to pray. You definitely want them to show up to small group, events and services. But what is in it for them? Sure they have a vague idea that God is going to “bless their lives” or “they will be closer to God than ever before”. But what does that look like. How is that tangible for them?

I feel like a big problem for getting students to actually engage with spiritual habits is for them to actually understand in a concrete way what it will do for them. Maybe that is some real life examples through someone sharing. Maybe you need just the right inspiration visually.

I haven’t got this one all figured out just yet. But I know I am a lot more likely to do something if I know what I am getting and I like it, then if not. So I know for my ministry I need to come up with some ways to work on this.

What ways are you leveraging your knowledge for students? What are some ways you show the tangible effects of what devotions can do for your life?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.
• Dr. Seuss

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
• Dr. Seuss

I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.
• Dr. Seuss

Imagine if Dr. Suess had a student ministry of some kind. It would be a fun and whimsical place. I think his youth group would be decorated for fun. His games would be positive and silly. The messages would be captivating, they would take you on a journey that ends with a powerful message. I think Dr. Suess would make a great youth worker.

I find the image of Dr. Suess as a youth worker inspiring. In fact I even use some of his books to start discussion. I use One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish to teach students about how God has created them to be unique. I use the Lorax to teach about how God wants us to be good stewards of the earth.

I find so often in my own ministry that I can be dry, stale, dull. I may be saying something powerful; sculpted out of my best theological work; but it lacks lustre. I might be teaching a message but everything leading up to it was boring. When those moments come, I search for new inspiration.

As summer is upon us, I would encourage you to take inspiration from Dr. Suess. Try something new and exciting as you go through the fall. Or perhaps you just need time to gear up for the fall, plan something fun with a powerful punch. Who knows you might even learn something from an old cat in a hat.

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle



Last week I wrote a post called When One Student Shows to talk about the issue of when only a single student shows up and how to handle it. Let’s look at the opposite problem today.

You have just finished your running around to buy all the food and supplies you needed for tonights big event. You ran through your check-list and have the exact amount of stuff you need to make it all work. You put it all down, organized it then the students start showing up. Quickly you realize all the students your students who are suppose to show are there, but you have another 5 to 10 students (change the values for your church size).

Oh what a problem to have, we always would love to see more numbers but when this moment happens its an uh-oh kind of moment. How are you going to deal with it?

So you have too many students show up and you are suddenly confronted with their eager faces; or their my mom made me come faces. You have to snap into action to make things happen.

A few steps I think are very important to take are:

Be Welcoming
Its not the students fault you aren’t prepared, and they matter just as much as the kids who RSVP’d to the event. If you can take the student do your best to make them feel welcome and bring them into the event.

Have a chain of command
I believe that if you have the volunteers it is important to have roles defined. Make sure you have a person you can rely on to run and grab more supplies or free up a seat in a car to be able to drive (if possible)

Be ready to say no
If for some reason you can’t accept the student for that event, you just have to be able to say no. Stick to deadlines for RSVP’ing if it is a major event that requires pre booking or lots of transportation. But don’t leave it there, be ready to be able to answer that student or parent why they cannot attend

Plan ahead
In my ministry there have been times when too many students have shown up and I get frustrated. I think to myself why can’t they just RSVP?, but I knew there was a good chance extra students might have come. So I have had to think hard about certain events. Well extra people might attend this one, so I make sure each vehicle going has an extra seat so we can fill those up if need be.

Maybe this isn’t an issue for your ministry, for others this can be a huge issue because of budget, number of volunteers or venue space. But one thing we can all learn from too many students is how we deal with people. Could this even be too many ministry volunteers? (In my dreams).

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

Last night I ran my small group that normally runs at about 5-6 students. Its a senior high group that has a mix of schools, sports and friendships. I love this group as they can have a lot of fun but they can go deep into a conversation and study sometimes.
The challenge was that only one student came.

There were a variety of reason; baseball and field hockey have started; the Vancouver Canucks were losing to the Sharks in hockey it was a busy night. But when only one student showed to discussion group you have to make a quick decision about what to do.

So I decided to take him out to Menchies, which is a frozen yogurt place with a ton of toppings and flavors. I decided to leverage this opportunity to talk with him about things we have chatted about in the past, we talked about everything from the timelessness of God to long boarding.

At the end of the night I dropped him off at home and felt like I had possibly had a huge impact in 2 hours of hanging out. So I started to ask myself why: why did that feel right? Why did we connect so much in that time? What made that into good youth ministry.

And it dawned on me that I was treating a student special. Very few students ever get attention from a role model they have in their life. Sure I probably could have cancelled the group before he got there, but what kind of message would that have sent?

All of this brought me to thinking about having a plan for when just one student shows up. Now some people have a tiny church and this happens all the time, others are in a mid-sized church like myself and it happens rarely, and others again are in a huge church where this would only happen very rarely in a small group setting.

But do you have a plan? Do your small group leaders know how to deal with this scenario? These moments could potentially be the most meaningful moments ever to happen in youth ministry. How are you going to leverage them?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle



About 3 weeks ago I ended up deciding on a whim to head to a soccer game. It was at 10pm on a cold night. Three of my 11th grade girls were playing in a game in a women’s league. They were super pumped about joining an adults league so I thought I would go out to support them. During and after the game I was able to connect with all three girls and their parents. It was really a good time and the girls loved it.

Was it worth it?

Definitely.

But the best past of the whole thing was a week later when a father of one of the girls came up to me after church. He shared with me that while I was watching the game from the sidelines a mother had come up to him and shared with him about some of the stresses in life and how she was questioning spirituality and what was going on. In this time he was able to share about his faith and the fact they go to church. When she started asking questions about the church she asked a few questions about the youth ministry and who the youth pastor was. He pointed down the sideline and said thats him over there in the red. She was floored that a pastor would come to watch some students play soccer let alone in the cold at 10pm. She told the dad that she would be interested in coming out to check out the church in the next little while.

Now I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder why I show up at games. Sure people are excited that I show up but is it really doing much? Well that right there was an exclamation point to let me know that it is doing a lot more than I think. If that family makes it to church and has the opportunity to hear the message of Christ, I would stand through a thousand cold, rainy night time soccer games (and believe me it rains here in Vancouver Canada).

So take a look at your schedule. What is a time that you can show up to something? A soccer game, a dance recital, a band concert it doesn’t matter. If you are struggling to figure out how to make time for getting to every kids game because you only work part time or have a huge ministry, pick one or two major things where multiple students are playing against each other or where other students will be in attendance.

You showing up to a simple event could change someones life drastically.

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

  • Whether it is stepping in when you don’t want to, asking someone to leave, picking a topic that is tough to discuss, at some point you are going to need to make a decision you don’t want to make.

    Recently this meant cutting a program that I love. For two years, I ran a wednesday night drop in. Any student could drop by the church for a game of pingpong, foosball, card games or just to run around or kick a ball. It was a lot of fun for the students, and they loved it. Problem for me was I had the choice I could start a new small group for 3 grade 12 students and 2 college students who wanted to go deeper or continue running Wednesday hang out for up to 20 students. Well I cut the program that consistently had big numbers to run a program for 5 students.

    Now for me the choice came to which program did I see having the most impact. In my mind it was far more important to equip a few older students with serious spiritual impact than to hang out. While those 20 students are just as valuable to me it all came down to our ministry vision and mission.

    Our mission is to create an environment of love and laughter, so we can reach students for Christ and disciple them to be spiritual leaders of this generation and the next.

    I believe that when you are faced with making a tough choice you have to look at what your vision and mission is, and weigh where the decision fits against that. If you don’t you will end up making a decision based on immediate feelings and that will often end up not being the best decision you could make.

    If you don’t know you mission and vision you need to. Without these two things you don’t truly have a guide to figure things out. If you need to develop these I encourage you to read Purpose Driven Youth Ministry.

    My second piece of advice when making a tough decision is to bring in another person or more. When we make decisions in isolation we often make the choice that suits us best, when you bring in another voice you become more likely to flesh out all the options. And let’s be honest as a youth worker you are going to go under fire a lot throughout your career, having a counsel helps you to support the decisions you made.

    What pieces of advice do you have on making tough decisions?

    Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle