A youth worker sent me an email with a question about preparing for growth in their ministry as they were seeing larger classes in their children’s ministry heading their way – it looks like their ministry is on a path to double soon. Here’s part of how I replied to him, thought it may be helpful to you as well:

Infrastructure is absolutely key. I would definitely start building a team of leaders with all your energy. You might be tempted to think adding more programs but I think people and systems are the best choice.

Adding a position
Getting another staff person, even part-time, is a crap shoot. Flirt with it in your mind, but in my experience that is usually where it stays. Typically leadership waits to see results and staffs late, or staffs intentionall what is hurting instead of what is building. Ironic, but want to be real with you so you don’t get your hopes up. I do think it is time to ask for help before it is too late. And either way, start pouring in to your leaders and building a team of people, paid or not.

Core Leaders
Start a core team of people who are totally on board with the vision of your ministry and love and follow you. These are the people you’ll do life with and know the best. You need to trust them. They will trust you. You need to eat together, laugh together and develop some inside jokes and memories as soon as possible.

More Leaders
Next, I’d work on developing as many additional leaders as I could. Get your small groups/life groups super small next year, so they can scale and grow with more students as they start entering the ministry. If each group has 4 students, you could easily give them 6 the next year and 8 the year after. So make them all super small right now and get the rookies some experience and get ready with an infrastructure for growth.

Systems
This is where you can prepare for growth as well – make sure that all of your systems are ready to scale as well.  Take a look at your communications tools, your curriculum, your web presence, your parent ministry – all of these systems need to be able to scale up to double/triple their size. If not, you need to ditch the tool now before it dies under the strain of growth. Take care of these things now and adding students is a breeze.Wait and it will crush you and slow your momentum to a crawl.

Other random stuff/links to consider:

JG


Got a great question this week at YSPalooza in Orlando – do we allow parents to be small group leaders in our own ministry – specifically for their own teenagers? Our answer is yes at our church. We don’t prohibit or discourage it in any way. I do totally get the concept and value the idea of another adult Christian modeling faith and mentoring our children, so I get why some ministries may choose a different way. Vote now!

JG



Last week I ran around to a few Life Groups doing “drive-by” milk and cookies runs. It was so much fun! Here’s what I was hoping to accomplish:

  • Encourage some leaders: Picking out some leaders who I haven’t connected with or spent time with lately is essential.Young leaders, rookie leaders are good targets!
  • Help them finish strong: this time of year groups tend to get smaller and could fade here at the end. A little boost of energy/buzz this time of year.
  • Surprise some students: Nothing better than barging in the front door of a small group with a gallon of milk and 4 packages of cookies. I let the leaders know I’m coming, but keep students in the dark.

JG

Hey everyone from YS Palooza!

Thanks for making our youth ministry workshop on small group leaders so fun this weekend — I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are a bunch of links from the 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leader trainings I promised you as well:

JG




We always start the Life Group year off strong in the fall and expect a dip in attendance this time of year. Right now, we’re at between 60-70% attendance of those registered in the group. How about you? Vote in today’s poll!

JG

[RSS readers, you can vote in the poll by clicking here]

Really enjoyed reading this post over on the Generation to Generation blog. They hit on two critical youth ministry concepts that you have to grasp early and often: follow up and follow though! Here’s a clip, head there for the whole article:

Sometimes one of my faults is not following up on things. I really need to write things down, keep things in my Outlook calendar to remind me to do something or to re-visit something I’ve started but not finished. Sometimes I get so busy with a new project that I forget to go back and make sure the old project I was working on is complete or if it needs some further attention. I need to do this with with my high school small group as well. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in presenting a new lesson or new scripture or a new life application that I forget to go back and see how my guys are doing with things we’ve already talked about.

I don’t forget about one of my guys who has been going through a tough time or dealing with a specific issue, I’m great at follow up with that, but sometimes I forget about the general topics we talk about. For instance a few weeks ago my guys asked if we could do a lesson on girls and dating and sex and what the Bible says about these things. We had a great lesson that night and I know I made them really think about how a relationship would look like and how to make sure that they put God in the center of all of their relationships. This past week I got a text from one of my guys asking some very specific questions about what the Bible says about an issue. That should have been my reminder that I need to follow up with all of them and see how they are doing with that topic. I need to build a reminder into each small group time to begin and ask questions about past topics and make sure everyone is still on task with prior topics.

Head over there for the rest of the thought!
JG



Our student leadership is just getting off the ground again right now (you can download our application later this week if you want to adapt it for your ministry) and we’re looking at curriculum to take our students through. Up first we’re going to do a book study of Doug Fields’ Help! I’m a Student Leader book, then we’re probably going to adapt LIVE’s Leadership lessons. We already use the LIVE Curriculum in our Life Groups, seems like a great fit. Here’s a bit of the company line if you want to check it out, too:

We’ve partnered with our good friends at LeaderTreks to help your students and adults discover indispensable biblical principles that are relevant both to daily life and to youth ministry. LeaderTreks has built a solid reputation as a national ministry committed to helping congregations pursue the goal of consistent leadership development within youth ministries.

JG

Our friends at youthministry360 are giving away a FREE Valentines lesson. It’s a solid lesson that uses the story of Ruth and Boaz to talk about the God-centered love we see in the Bible versus the broken image of love the world bombards students with. The lesson also makes the connection that the aspects of love seen in Ruth’s story are perfected in the love we see in Christ. The lesson features a really cool, really interactive PowerPoint slideshow as well as a Leader’s Guide. If you want to teach the lesson, all you have to do is roll over there to check it out.

JG