As my high school group of guys have grown older I’ve noticed the amount or responsibilities and conflicts in schedule have grown.  Because our groups meet every Thursday night it’s easy for them to miss a week here and there.  However, as the obstacles and alternate opportunities grow their attendance starts to falter.  They tell me they love being their; however, they are just so bogged down with:

  • School Work
  • Sports Practice
  • Responsibilities At Home

I’m sure this list could continuously go on for many of you and that your groups face similar challenges.  The key to keeping the group strong is to enable it to grow outside of your allotted time.  That means connecting with teens multiple times during the week in a variety of ways.

That might seem fine to you; however, overwhelming to your volunteers. If you introduce that idea to them there might be push back or reluctance, and that’s okay.  You just need to help and show them how to grow outside the designated time.  To do that:

  • Give Leaders An Out – From time to time give your small group leaders permission to do something outside of the usual time or agenda.  Because time is so valuable allow them to sacrifice a night of the “usual youth ministry” to do something different.  Challenge them to embark in a service project instead of discussing service.  Encourage them to do something social that will build camaraderie.  Give them permission “to play”.
  • Extend An Invitation - Many leaders might not know where to start when it comes to investing in their group outside the weekend.  Invite them to join you when you are heading out to a game (Where their teens might be present) or on an outing your group might be planning.  By extending an invitation you are leading by example. 
  • Set Them Up For Success - On top of extending an invitation to join you equip them with resources that will help them connect with teens outside the group.  That might mean training them on social media etiquette, or giving them the tools for planning a night of laser tag.  As the youth minister of your church you have a wealth of resources and knowledge that your volunteers need access.  

The more a group can grow outside of the weekend or it’s usual time the stronger it will become.  It will teach the teens how to build relationships outside of a youth ministry setting.  It will also build confidence in your leaders because they’ll feel like they have ownership.  When your leaders are motivated to lead outside the group it extends your capacity to be present in the community.

How do you help your volunteers connect with teens outside the designated time?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

When I read Josh’s poll about ministry education it got me thinking about who I am and where I have come from. It got me thinking can I integrate my lessons learned from the past to make me a better student pastor?

Now I have a varied background when it comes to how I got to where I am now working with students from grade 8-young adults (18-25). I started volunteering in ministry as soon as I could, when I was in Jr high I helped out with Sunday school, as I progressed to high school I helped out with junior high students when I moved on to college I began to help out with high school students.

My education is also a bit of a mess if you looked at it on paper. I spent time in Bible school obtaining a Diploma in Christian Studies at which time I decided to take time off of school to work in full time camp ministry. I eventually returned to school to take a Wilderness Leadership certificate. My thinking was if I have more technical experience I would become a better outdoorsman. After returning to camp ministry for a brief period I believed God was calling me on to something different. I worked for 3 years in the death care industry, learning simple lessons from working with people grieving. After this I ended up going to school to become a Paramedic, and right after I finished my practicum, training and licensing as a Paramedic I landed in my current position. Now I am working full time with students but also working on my Masters in Christian studies with an emphasis on Biblical exposition.

Now I am sure if a lot of churches looked at this they would laugh and move along in the pile of resumes that came into them for a position, but where I have come from gives me a lot to stand on.

My Christian studies are used daily as I teach and preach, these skills are closely tied to my job. It is without question in my mind that some type of biblical training whether formal or informal greatly helps one in their ministry.

My time in camp ministry and taking wilderness leadership has given me the unique opportunity to take students into the outdoors and use nature to teach about God. I take students whitewater rafting, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, my goal is to even do a canoe trip or a multi-day wilderness excursion.

Working in the death care industry helped me understand working with grieving people. Now I am not a gifted counselor but students are going through a lot, and sometimes they are grieving. With having experience in this area I can feel comfortable talking to them. I might not know what they are going through but I can navigate through this area of trouble.

Training as a paramedic is useful. At All-nighters I have dealt with concussions, cuts, breaks, sprains and the list will continue to grow, with my understanding of first aid and medicine I am equipped to hand these injuries and it has given me a lot of credit with parents. I would encourage you if you don’t have any first aid, take a class it will increase your credibility with parents in your church.

It is hard to see for many how my journey has ended up where I am at along the road. But when I look at it, I see areas where I have unique strengths that help me in my ministry. I also see where God has taken me to help patch up weaknesses to make me a better servant.

Please take some time and share where you have been. I think it would be encouraging to hear the stories of how God has tailored each one of us to be the servant we are today.

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.comor Twitter: @CorbinKyle.