My friend AC has a great new blog about leaders at our weekend services being active and available in our youth group meetings – here’s a clip of how he is leading our volunteer team on the weekend. Read this teaser, and head there for the rest:

  1. Greet – We want to greet students.  We will greet students instead of wait in a corner for them to come to us.  We will reach out to them instead of waiting for them to reach out to us.
  2. Meet – We want to make sure that we genuinely meet them.  Refer to the hand out “Hand Shake Hi to a Hug Goodbye/”.  I also had them refer to this handout I created to help them really connect with the students “Conversation tactics for youth workers“.
  3. Connect – We want to make sure that we are intentional about our conversation with students.  We want to look for ways in the conversation to suggest a next step.  For new students we want to guide them towards community.  That could range from life groups to serving opportunities within the ministry or summer camp.  You can even suggest grabbing coffee, lunch or ice cream with them sometime.  For students who are already in life groups, you can suggest serving in a ministry, missions or summer camp.  We want to make sure students are getting connected.
  4. Pray – We want to pray for students.  While you are connecting through conversations, once an area of struggle, pain, disappointment, hardship and trial appears offer prayer.  We want to avoid saying “I’ll be praying for you”.  Pray for the student right there on the spot.  Even pray for the core students you already know that have been met, greeted and connected.  Go deeper in conversation and pray for them.  Just because they are a part of our core students doesn’t mean they have everything together.  Every situation will be different but when the opportunity presents itself feel free to pray.

JG

I really enjoyed reading Thom Shultz’s Holy Soup take on why students are leaving the church post-high school. There’s been so much discussion about this issue I enjoyed a fresh angle on how to help fix it. Here’s a clip, head there for his complete thoughts:

So, why are our young people losing faith in the church and God? It’s a relationship problem. They don’t think of Jesus as their friend. He’s a concept or an historical figure. He’s an academic subject that their churches teach. And once they graduate from youth group, they forget about the Jesus subject—just as they forget about their other high school subjects. Jesus gets left behind with algebra and early American literature.

Ironically, many youth ministry analysts suggest that the cure to the young’s exodus is . . . more academic religious knowledge. They insist what’s really needed is “deeper study,” “stronger biblical teaching,” and “more robust theology.”

Thorough Bible knowledge is a good thing. I’d like to see more of it. My organization publishes Bibles and Bible resources. But kids aren’t walking away from the church because they lack an adequate accumulation of Bible facts.

They lack relationship. And relationships—of any kind—rarely grow and bond primarily due to the accumulation of data. Relationships—with people and with God—develop through demonstrations of unconditional love, building of trust, forgiveness, reliance, and tons of two-way communication.

JG



Today we hit on the foundation of good youth ministry: Love God, love students.

Love God

This is the first love—our hearts must be centered and aligned with his in order to do genuine and effective ministry. You can fake it, but frauds are always found out. A counterfeit youth pastor won’t make it long-term—and the key to being genuine is to be in a genuine, daily walk with The Father. We all endure seasons of spiritual dryness, but make sure it’s the rare interlude to sincere spiritual health. Remember, you’re discipling your students with your life; make sure it’s centered in the right place.

THIS WEEK: Take a little time to evaluate your spiritual health. Usually, you instinctively know where you currently stand, so don’t try to talk yourself out of your gut reaction. There is nothing more important in your life/office/to-do list than your walk with Jesus. Ask your supervisor for a spiritual retreat day. Call up a mentor and savor the wisdom in his or her words. Eat a meal alone. Talk to the person who is draining you, or finally have that conversation you’ve been dreading that’s been distracting you from truly loving God. Love Jesus more than you love youth ministry.

Love Students

For most, this comes pretty easy…it’s the reason you got into this gig—but at times students can be needy or draining. When spending time with students suddenly feels tough, fight through the temptation to focus on tasks and be constrained to your church office. Get out and be with students. We’ve both discovered through the years that the very best way to stay in love with students is to simply be around them!

THIS WEEK: Adjust your schedule to spend a little more time with students. Linger in a conversation with a student you would normally brush off. Look for opportunities to show up in a big way for a family in need.

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.

Sometimes I get the occasional comment that goes something like this: “So when are you going to get a church of your own?” What they are really saying is ‘when are you going to grow up and be a Lead Pastor, Sr. Minister, or other more responsible position within the church?’ I generally just laugh off these comments while secretly thinking to myself “when are you gonna pull your head out of your rear end and realize I already hold a responsible position?!?!?!” Over my 14 years in this thing called youth ministry, I have been asked this question more than I care to count. I’ve noticed something, however, that gives me some encouragement…the more time I spend at a given location, the less I receive these comments. This has to do with two main factors that I hope will encourage you…

1. Relationships! with parents and especially grandparents and the older generation in the church are a HUGE factor to your success and credibility in youth ministry. Remember, they have been around the block a time or two…raised their children (or are right in the middle of it) and learned from years of making mistakes. The more time you spend developing solid relationships with them, the more they will respect your judgement and leadership.

2. Risk Management! This is a term not used much in the church world but in the Insurance industry it’s huge! People want to know their kids will be safe. As ministers of teens, it can be tempting to let them act out of their desire for Adventure and Excitement *a Jedi craves not these things* in the immortal words of our pointy-eared friend. The part of a teenager’s brain that controls the realization of actions vs. long term consequences has not fully developed. As youth ministers, we must have the wisdom to harness that desire and steer it in productive directions that will glorify God instead of making a parent mad because Jimmy decided it would be a good idea to peel out of a parking lot into oncoming traffic because he wanted to get a head start on the scavenger hunt. (yes it happened) When we can be responsible, parents notice!

As they notice your ability to develop relationships with people other than teens, and as the “adult” side of you makes responsible decisions with the well-being of their kids, your stability in ministry will improve and you won’t have to field the question of “So, what’s next for you?” so often.

Lyle Parker is the Youth/Worship Tech Minister in Fayetteville Christian Church.



I serve as a volunteer service coordinator at my church’s youth group.

As I was checking on some things during our youth service on Wednesday night, a college age guy walked into the room. He stood awkwardly in the back of the room seeming as if he was looking for someone. Since I was close by, I walked over and introduced myself to him. I also asked him if I could help him find a place to sit. He told me his name and then said, “I’m here because some girl invited me.” I laughed and said, “Well, I hope you find her.”

He continued to hangout in the back of the room and survey the crowd. Since he walked in during the sermon, he decided to just stay standing in the back until after service. I had to leave him because I had some things that I needed to check on, but I made a mental note to check up on him after service.

After service I had a chance to talk with him. I was able to make a connection with him and invite him back for the following Wednesday night. I also had one of our college guys go over and talk with him and make him feel welcome. The student I sent to chat with him even exchanged cell phone numbers with him and introduced him to a few of his friends.

All of that being said, I did not write this article to show how awesome I am. I wrote this article because I believe that there are millions of people just like this young adult who visit our youth groups and churches every week. God sends them to us, but we have to keep our eyes open for them. How many young men and young women come awkwardly into our services each week and are never greeted or talked to? How many young people do we overlook that God sends our way?

May we keep our eyes and ears open to the young people that God sends to us.

Joey Berrios is a volunteer youth worker, educator, designer, and writer.

I (Josh) remember during one of my most painful seasons in ministry I got an email from a fellow youth pastor. The message was short and sweet — it consisted of 3 words:

“Hang in there.”

Today I’m heading into a painful meeting with a volunteer. He needs to be removed for us to move forward. I had a tough interaction with a parent who was upset about an illustration I used during our recent series on relationships. I had to call out someone for spreading gossip and hurting the unity of our church. It feels like every day this week I’ve been hit with something big or tasked with something extraordinarily difficult. What I need someone to say to me right now is, “Hang in there.”

Thankfully I’ve got some genuine cheerleaders on the sidelines of our ministry. They realize the long hours, tough conversations and painful weeks in ministry add up and, if unchecked, run you straight into burnout. I’ve heard a ton of encouraging words this week that even in a season like this — God isn’t quite done with me at this place. That even when things are tough, God is good and faithful. Remidners that He is changing lives even when the circumstances around our ministry are less than ideal.

So today, please hear this from me: Hang in there.

Fight the battles you need to fight today. Be strong where strength is needed and give in and be weak when it doesn’t really matter. Ask your mentor for prayer this week, grab coffee with a friend in your youth ministry network so you can vent and then gear up for another run.

No one said youth ministry was going to be easy. In fact, I think Jesus might have said our lives would be just the opposite.* But know that He is faithful and is building and shaping you and the people around you. I would imagine that you’re probably not done where He’s got you — that maybe you need to bloom where you’re planted, even if there is a little frost on the ground this morning.

So hang in there. And please remind me of this article the next time I’m about to quit, too.

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.




Facebook is an incredible tool for your youth ministry – if you’re not on it and engaging students than a great opportunity might be just ahead for you. For those of you that do, I’m curious – this week’s poll asks how much time you spend on the site (total, personal included). Vote in this week’s poll!

JG

Weekend Teaching Series: Facebook Official (week 3 of 5)
Sermon in a Sentence: 7 questions to ask about your dating relationship.
Service Length: 76 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend I wanted to focus on a biblical perspective to dating – although dating isn’t implicitly mentioned in the Bible and is a much more modern cultural invention of ours. For sure the Bible does talk plenty in principle about WHO to date and HOW to date so that’s the perspective of the talk. I shared a bunch of personal stories from my dating life including heartbreak, and eventually how I met my wife. The talk was designed to build on Doug’s narrow vs wide way challenge from last week and included 7 questions to ask about their current/future dating relationships.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This is the last weekend before our Pumpkinfest event, so we spent a little chink of the program with a funny skit that included an awkward robot and our stage emcee. Really funny stuff, as always trying to make annoucements both memorable and engaging. We also played a funny video from RhettandLink about Facebook profile pictures and dating.

Music Playlist: Enchanted [Taylor Swift cover], Oh Lord, Your Love is Enough, Grace, Cannons

Favorite Moment: The conversations after the service were the best. Nothing like a series like this to get students thinking … and talking. Several students were convinced it was alright for them to date someone of a different religion – by far the most popular discussion this weekend after the talk.

Up next: Facebook Official (week 4 of 5) [Doug Fields teaching about sex]