How We Do What We Do

 —  August 29, 2012 — 3 Comments

It will come as no surprise to most of you that we have a very specific strategy concerning our approach to youth ministry. While your paradigm/process/strategy/purpose (call it whatever the heck you want) may look different than ours, having an easily articulated method to your madness is worth considering. Our youth ministry is centered around three simple “arenas” we think are ultra important in teenagers lives. Right now all of our youth ministry programs fit into one of these three arenas, each with a very specific purpose:

LARGE GROUP: We want to EXPOSE students to Christ, his kingdom and the 5 Purposes.

PRIMARY PROGRAM: Weekend Worship Services
Our weekend services are designed to give students a taste of what the church is all about and an entry-level chance to be exposed to the teachings of Jesus. All students are welcome, and the message is designed to have applications for seekers and the sold out. The services have a high level of student involvement with adults only in the most critical roles (teaching, etc). This is our most visible program to the public and also the most visible to the pastoral leadership of the church as well.

SMALL GROUP: We want students to EXPERIENCE Christ, his kingdom and the 5 Purposes with others.

PRIMARY PROGRAM: Life Groups
Our small group program meets during the week (on Tuesday or Wednesday nights) and divides up the large group into groups of 8-10 students. Groups are ideally made up of teenagers in the same grade, gender and geography enabling them to form a strong community through their high school years. Every group has an adult leader who leads the discussion and teaches a curriculum that’s separate from the large group program. Our goal is that a student goes beyond simple exposure to Christ but will begin to experience discipleship, ministry, and community.

INDIVIDUAL LIFE: Ultimately, we hope students will EXPRESS Christ, his kingdom and the 5 Purposes through their lifestyle.

PRIMARY PROGRAM(S): Grow booth, missions trips, events, serve projects
Basically in this arena we have a ton of options that students can choose as an individual. They’ve been exposed to Christ at the entry-level program, they experience Christ in a small group—now they have the chance to express or live out their faith in a myriad of choices presented to them at this level. We offer lots of Serve opportunities and resources to help students grow, and a few key events/camps throughout the year as well.

What does your process look like? Share it in the comments!

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.

Operation Slow-Down

 —  May 22, 2012 — 1 Comment

It’s time for youth group to start, and I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off, finishing last-second details. (Sound familiar?) Deep inside, I know I’m telling every young person, “I don’t have time for you.” But my to-do list beckons.

If someone naïvely dares to stop me, I nervously fidget and struggle to maintain eye contact because I’m worried about dropping the ball on the looming program. I peer over this mere mortal’s shoulder and silently freak out as the countdown to start time nears zero. I pacify the person who caused this momentary diversion with a shallow promise to connect later in the week. Although I know that probably won’t happen, I desperately need to return to the important task at hand. Just to make sure I’m not stopped again, I take out my phone, participate in a ghost call, and resume my pace.

Ouch! Enough confessional time. Here’s my new plan to conduct Operation Slow-Down:

• I will ease my pace. Walk. More. Slowly. Resist the urge to end conversations quickly and move on to the next project. I want the pace of leisure to be my default and attentiveness to be my act of generosity.

• I will dial-in the program in advance. Work hard during the week so the youth service or meeting goes off without a hitch. Don’t save last-minute details for when people are arriving. Make it a goal to be standing around, with nothing to do, 10 minutes before the first young person walks through the door. That way, you’ll be ready to fully engage with kids.

• I will care about people and the program. I’m a program person all the way. Nothing’s more exciting to me than sharing the timeless message of Christ in creative ways. Tension will always exist between presenting a top-notch service or meeting and spending time with people. But final details and adjustments shouldn’t crowd out expressions of love. Care about the program, care about the creative elements, be proud of your innovative message or creative mini-movie that you spent several late nights sweating over. But be keenly aware of the people who might need you beforehand.

Trying to outdo yourself can become a vicious cycle. So stop walking around with such urgency. Instead, overflow with love for the listeners. After all, that’s who you’re trying to reach.

Originally appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!



If you were at the youth ministry track today at Radicalis, I promised that most everything I shared was on the blog. Here’s a quick rundown to get it quickly – and if you weren’t there some stuff from the archives that might interest you, too:

JG