football2

It’s football season! It’s on everyone’s mind and so it’s an analogy I like to use when it comes to working with our support team in ministry.  Imagine your team has shown up for their first game.  So you, the Coach says,  “Alright, the goal today is to make a touch down.   Get the ball from the other team and meet me in end zone as quickly as you can.”    You take your place on the sidelines, while everyone else looks confused.   “What game is this again?”  One asks.  “We are wearing yellow and they are wearing red, does that matter?”  Another chimes in.   “Do I knock people down if they get in the way?” The questions keep coming.

Those of us who are the “leader” are usually in the game because it is intuitive. For the rest of our “team” this is not always true. We aren’t just there to coach the students, and sometimes we forget.  That is why position, processes, and practice are vital to your volunteers.

  • Position:

Not everyone wants to teach a Bible study.  There are those that are relational, some are administrative,  others like to organize details or make meals.  Yes, yes and yes as far as who is needed.   We have a tendency to merely look at the position and take the first warm body that comes along.  This will not always beneficial. Leadertreks (leadertreks.com)  has some amazing tools that help you take a different look at placement.  My favorite tool in this area is the “Sweet Spot,” assessment.  This takes less than 5 minutes for a potential volunteer to fill out.  It helps them see where they should serve,  who the students that they are most comfortable with and where they feel they will be most useful.  When we put people in the right position then it helps the team to work towards the common goal.

  • Process:

Job descriptions are step one.  It details exactly what and who you are looking for.  Over communicating expectations is step two.   Processes help everyone to know they are on the same team, on the same field, at the same time.

  •  Practice:

Your team understands who they are and what is expected of them.  Still they want to know HOW to play.  This is where training is indispensible.   This can come in many forms.  Try having quick debriefs on youth meetings. I follow a method I learned from Doug Franklin.  The “3’s”.   3 things that went well.  3 Challenges.  3 Action steps to work on the challenges.    Once a quarter try offering a deep evening training on a practical “how to” that the team has been asking about. .  Send out an article or web link that I think might be helpful as you come across it. Obviously, there are so many ideas of ways that you can train people.  If you are reading this site you are a learner yourself. Make the time and the expectations on everyone that this is a “must” that helps them with all that they do.

These are some of the elements that help build a stronger team,  heading to the same  goal.    It can be easy to think,  “of course we all want to win together.”  Any good football team knows that position, process and practice is what takes you to the super bowl.  In this case it is producing a generation that takes over our job…

What are you doing for your “team” to teach them the game?

One of the key roles of a youth worker is speaking to teenagers. For some this is a gift that comes naturally—lots of youth workers are gifted speakers, while others have had to learn how to communicate effectively to an audience. Regardless of your skill level, these tips will either affirm what you’re already doing or help you push forward in your skills on stage.

Find Your Preferred Outline Style
Everyone has a preferred style of notes—I (Kurt) prefer a simple student outline with a few speaker notes written in the margin. I (Josh) prefer a fully written out manuscript when speaking to teenagers. Experiment with both and you’ll quickly find what works best for you and gives you the most comfort on stage.

TIP: Kurt’s style allows for more spontaneity, while Josh’s ensures what is meant to be said actually gets said!

Practice It Once or Twice By Yourself
Prepare your lesson early enough to provide time to run over the talk out loud as if you were giving it live on stage. Work on your delivery, and add new thoughts and ideas to your outline as you progress through the run-through. So often great lines, dramatic pauses, or a fresh idea come through when you’re practicing. Too often what looks good on paper doesn’t work verbally, so get the kinks out before you’re in front of your students. I (Josh) have made this a non-negotiable part of my lesson prep. Kurt, on the other hand…well, the results speak for themselves!

Ruthlessly Debrief Your Talk
There’s nothing more vulnerable than walking off stage and allowing someone to critique your message…BUT, it’s a key component of improving your delivery. Fight through the pride and let your volunteers, a key leader, or your spouse (man oh man are our spouses honest with us) help you get better each week.

You’ll improve greatly if you open yourself up for honest feedback. The truth of the matter is this: People are critiquing you anyway; why not give them permission to share their observations!

So there are a few ideas to help you teaching teens. Add one 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.



You are a performer. Every day, you rise to the occasion and give a performance. It is built into every presentation, interaction and talk you give. And this book will guide you to success in that new realization. I really enjoyed the quick read The Encore Effect by Mark Sanborn (author of The Fred Factor). It reminded me of the size of a Patrick Lencioni book and the insights of a Seth Godin masterpiece. Together, it makes for a powerful combination to process and challenge your thinking. Lots of quick applications for youth ministry – you are always on stage with parents, your talks can sink or swim and practice makes a world of difference which of those happen. Here’s the 5 main sections in the book:

Passion: The fuel for remarkable performance
Prepare: How remarkable performance begins
Practice: It won’t make you perfect, but it will make you better
Perform: How to engage your audience
Polish: Making your performance shine

Good stuff!

JG