Gregg Farah as been on a blogging streak lately. I really enjoyed his post called 5 Mistakes Every Youth Worker Makes and How to Avoid Them. Here’s a clip of a common mistake – that if I’m honest about (and probably you are, too) is a mistake I make all to often. Head there for the rest:

5) Leave God Out (both rookies and vets are guilty)
We get so busy serving God we forget to be with God, we forget to talk to God, and we forget to listen to God. When I first started in ministry a vet youth worker said, “Don’t let your service exceed your worship.” I fight that temptation on a regular basis.

Solution:
a) Stop. If you have a choice between a last-second review of your notes for a Bible study, or sitting still in the presence of God, go with God. Every time.
b) Model reliance on God. Pray with students before everything and talk about God’s answers to prayer. I think God answers prayer far more than we give God credit. Let’s help students get excited that God does hear our prayers and answers them.

JG

 

Over the past 15 years (and 3 weeks) that I’ve been in full-time ministry I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes. I’ve made so many I’m currently pitching a book called Youth Ministry Nightmares where I talk about the stories surrounding my biggest leadership gaffs.

While these aren’t nightmares, they are some mistakes I’ve made in the not-so-recent past:

Neglecting rookie volunteers
There is one group of leaders in your ministry that need you more than anyone else: the newbies. My mistake in the past was to concentrate on launching and not sustaining. The more time you take to make rookie leaders great the more you will retain and the better (and faster) experienced veterans they will become.

Not changing your leadership style to fit your team
When my volunteer team was all my close friends, I could manage relationally and we were overflowing with trust and history. As teams change, and you encourage outsiders to join your team, make sure you adjust to the people God has given you. Make history with them. Design activities to build trust. Make sure they are fully trained and equipped.

Falling in love with youth ministry more than Jesus
From time to time I have found myself in an unhealthy tension—choosing to love youth ministry more than Jesus. Loving what I do instead of who I do it for. It doesn’t take long in a season of discouragement to reveal which way you have erred.

Hope my mistakes help you be a better youth worker! Share your mistakes in the comments, 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.



Over the past 15 years (and 3 weeks) that I’ve been in full-time ministry I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes. I’ve made so many I’m currently pitching a book called Youth Ministry Nightmares where I talk about the stories surrounding my biggest leadership gaffs.

While these aren’t nightmares, they are some mistakes I’ve made in the not-so-recent past:

Neglecting rookie volunteers
There is one group of leaders in your ministry that need you more than anyone else: the newbies. My mistake in the past was to concentrate on launching and not sustaining. The more time you take to make rookie leaders great the more you will retain and the better (and faster) experienced veterans they will become.

Not changing your leadership style to fit your team
When my volunteer team was all my close friends, I could manage relationally and we were overflowing with trust and history. As teams change, and you encourage outsiders to join your team, make sure you adjust to the people God has given you. Make history with them. Design activities to build trust. Make sure they are fully trained and equipped.

Falling in love with youth ministry more than Jesus
From time to time I have found myself in an unhealthy tension–choosing to love youth ministry more than Jesus. Loving what I do instead of who I do it for. It doesn’t take long in a season of discouragement to reveal which way you have erred.

Hope my mistakes help you be a better youth worker! Share your mistakes in the comments, 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.

Last week we talked about debriefing your summer calendar, and we got a great response from it (largely asking the question, “how?”) and thought it might be good to devote a whole article on the topic. So today we’re going to list 20 questions to help you begin to evaluate your summer youth ministry calendar:

  • What did we plan that was a success?
  • What surprised us that was totally awesome?
  • Where did we get blindsided?
  • Was there a good balance of evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and worship?
  • Did we lose/gain momentum at any time this summer?
  • What was an epic fail?
  • Where were the wins with parents?
  • Is there an event we need to move to a different place in the calendar?
  • Was the format of our website/Facebook/blog/printed calendar clear?
  • Was there enough promotion for our events? How could we make it better?
  • Is there a sacred cow we need to shoot?
  • Where were our leaders unprepared?
  • Are there opportunities to integrate our students into the church body we should consider next year?
  • What event should we never do again?
  • Were there any surprising turnouts in numbers?
  • Where did we communicate poorly?
  • In what circumstances did parents contact us?
  • Who is a key volunteer we need to circle back with now that summer is over?
  • Was it easy for parents to find out information/download forms/get a registration packet?
  • Were entry level — core students challenged this summer?
  • What was so great we need to consider making it an annual tradition?
  • Which volunteer was incredible and needs to be challenged to be a small group leader this school year?
  • What events seemed best to invite friends to?
  • Where did I as the leader have the most fun relationally hanging with students?
  • Where did we see the most decisions made for Christ?

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.



Yesterday I posted part 1 of our volunteer process in our high school ministry – here’s the second half of the process from start to finish. Let me know if there’s anything that needs clarifying in the comments!

Train
Leader training is a critical and ongoing step in the process, our very best leaders attend small group leader training each year, even as veterans. We regularly give away little books or resources, encourage them with a video or note and even make sure they have ongoing training in their hands every few months.

Care
When there is a crisis in the life of one of our leaders, we are there. Flowers for a death in the family, a visit if they’re in the hospital, prayer over a family crisis – I am a pastor to pastors – and these amazing volunteers are our front line ministers so I need to give them focus, love and care.

Encourage
Be a cheerleader.

Remove
Occasionally you may have to remove a leader. Every year so far we’ve had to deal with the messiness of ministry specifically with volunteers. It may be a personal issue, a doctrinal issue or something to do with lifestyle. Either way, I have to take care of it as it is part of our process. My least favorite one on this list but a necessary evil.

Celebrate
We have some superstar leaders, and when they’re run is over we celebrate. Maybe it is as simple as a note or movie tickets, other times it is dinner at a nice restaurant. Take time to love them our the door if they finish well.

JG

Been talking a little bit about our youth ministry volunteer process since we have a key leader in transition on our team and we want to make sure the DNA and spirit of our group is intact after she’s gone. Here’s what our process looks like – from beginning to end:

Recruit
We go to as many different arenas in the church as possible to find volunteers. When it’s time to recruit, begin with prayer and go to the places where your best potential leaders are. Talk to groups and talk to specific individuals. Beware of the temptation to commit the seven deadly sins of volunteer recruiting.

Application
Once you’ve made the ask, make sure you have an application for them to fill out. Make sure it is somewhat comprehensive while not being defeating, but discouraging enough to weed out most of the poorer applicants from the start.

Investigate
Included in the application is the consent for a background search. This is absolutely critical. No one serves with students unless they’ve been professionally screened. The potential volunteer pays the nominal fee for this to be completed.

Interview
After the application and interview, we take some time to get to know them. In many churches, you know the potential volunteer already, but take the time to talk with them specifically about what they’re getting into. Share you heart, vision and make sure they have their questions answered, too.

Assign
Once they get the green light up to this point of the process, we will assign them an area of ministry. Usually this is revealed during the interview process – sometimes it is where we have a need (like a small group leader) or based on availability (like an event leader) or passion (like a weekend leader). Ideally we would put in 3 and 6 month check ins, but this is less formal in our setting and we just try to catch up with them as we can as they get acclimated to the ministry,

I’ll post part two tomorrow! What’s your process, or what needs clarity from ours? Let me know in the comments.

JG



This past Saturday I spoke my last message to the students in our youth ministry. At the end of the month, I’ll be leaving my current position as a youth associate to take my first official youth pastor position at a church plant.

As I reflect on my last 9 years of youth ministry, I started asking myself, “What were the most important lessons I have learned about youth ministry?” I’ve found that one of the most important lessons we can learn is learning how to earn influence with students so we can make a lasting impact in their lives.

So how do we do this?

You Earn Influencing by Caring – John Maxwell has taught us all, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” That’s a fact. Students know whether or not we genuinely care through our words, eye contact, and the time we spend with them. Be intentional when it comes to caring for your students. Encourage them, pray for them, be there when they need you, and point them to Jesus every chance you get.

You Earn Influence Through Creating Memories - Every time I am with students, I ask the question, “What could we do right now that would create a memory that we will never forget?” The more memories you make, the more influence you’ll have!

You Earn Influence Through Leading by Example – It’s true that students will do what you do, not what you say. You can preach the greatest sermon ever, but if your life doesn’t back it up, you will not earn any influence with students. If you teach it, make sure you are living it.

You Earn Influence by Being Vulnerable – I’m extremely vulnerable with our students. I am myself around them, I share my weaknesses, and I share my hurts with them. I remember asking some of our core students this summer if my vulnerability made my influence with them more credible or less credible. Without hesitation, they all said, “more credible.” Be vulnerable. Be Real. Be You.

I have learned and I believe that if we’ll do these 4 things consistently with our students and continue our most important job, pointing them to Jesus, we will make a lasting impact in our student’s lives.

Bubba is the founder of OnlyGod.us! He lives for God, is in love with his wife, loves to workout using P90X and Insanity, runs marathons, blogs at BubbaSmith.net, works at a sweet church and has a passion for helping people live their lives on purpose and grow to their maximum potential.


Taught a small group leader training for our volunteers a couple weeks ago – just ran across it in my Moleskin tonight and realized I haven’t had a free moment to share it with you. Simple stuff, just an encouragement for our Life Group leaders, young and old, to think wisely:

Think wisely about what you post on Facebook
Please realize that what you post is public, permanent and reflects on our ministry as a whole (see more on this subject here). Use common sense when you post pictures or status updates – read everything through a second time before pushing send or submit. And don’t forget – something that is questionable will always be taken out of context. There is a huge difference between a joke between friends at a coffee shop and a joke that will most certainly be misunderstood posted for the world to see.

Think wisely when you drive students
I’ve taken tonss of students home from small groups or to an outing – and done some questionable things while doing it. We used to “hit mailboxes” – we didn’t really, I just had a student leader in the passenger seat whack the side of the church van when I swerved dangerously close to the side of the road. If you’ve ever used the phrase, “shoot that was close” or “I wonder if we can bury the speedometer” you aren’t using common sense.

Think wisely when you consume media
Here’s the key: what you do, say, watch, listen to, eat – whatever – it all becomes a ringing endorsement in the ears of your students. As the leader of your small group, take extra caution to think about what you’re consuming and if that would be good for your student to see as an example or to participate in themselves. Your words, actions and ideas have incredible power. Think before you watch.

Think wisely when you talk to parents
You are the youth pastor of your small group – so remember that when talking to parents. I guess first off – remember to talk to parents. Communication, good or bad, directly effects the reputation or the student ministry. Take a few minutes to share with parents what you’re covering in small groups, and share a personal observation about their child. It is OK to talk differently to parents than you would to their student.

JG