You might not have noticed yet that Slant33 has been relaunched recently but the premise remains the same: 1 topic, 3 perspectives. I got a chance to jump in on the question How Far Do You Plan Out Your Youth Ministry Calendar? What’s Your Process? Why? Here’s part of my thoughts on the topic, click through for the complete thought and to get the other 2 takes from Brian Berry and Lars Rood, too:

I love Google Maps. When you load the homepage, the default view is zoomed way out, showing you the whole United States. Type in an address and it zooms in quickly to show you a specific region. Click “street view” and BAM! you’re looking at things as if you were literally walking through the neighborhood on foot. Kinda creepy, since this means Google is stalking us, but kinda awesome at the same time. And a great example of how we typically plan our youth ministry calendar.

We first take a look at the big picture of our ministry then zoom in on the season ahead and finally get a street view all the way down to the current teaching series and events.

It is a wise idea to get away for the day and get a big picture of your ministry. Take a break from the pace of ministry and the distractions of email, voicemail, and the persistent nagging of Google Plus and wrestle with an overview of your youth group. August is the perfect time for this!

For some, this is a simple task because they live in the world of ideas and vision. For others, it will be challenging to stick your head up over it all and get a glimpse of the whole.

Key questions to ask yourself at this big-picture stage:

  • Where do you think God wants to take students in the next year?
  • What worked well last year, and will it work again?
  • What annual events would be effective again this year?
  • What needs to get the ax?
  • Have you blocked out your week of vacation?
  • Where are we strong, and where are we weak?
  • Is there a good balance of God’s eternal purposes for our ministry (evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, worship)?

JG

Too many youth workers are running at full capacity with not enough margin to care for themselves or their team. Some of it is self-inflicted in our own brokenness, some of it is the product of a church culture skewed to an unhealthy extreme. Either way, we have a responsibilty as a church to make sure that we are healthy and balanced, not screaming down the path to burnout. If we’re not careful, we could model exactly what not to do to our team. If you want to keep your team and yourself healthy and for a long time – here are a few ideas mixed in with more questions than answers:

Training
Every individual is responsible for their personal growth, but the church culture should share in this pursuit. Does your church regularly offer and/or require volunteers to participate in training events? Is there access to plenty of resources to grow on their own? Is there a culture to share what you are learning with others? People who aren’t trained will eventually grow tired of trying without success, will be crushed under the weight of success, or quietly search for someone who will care for them AND care for what they do. Well-trained people stay longer.

Coaching
Coaches identify unseen weaknesses, opportunities and motivations. To often people are left in isolation when they need the benefits of an actively engaged coach. When was the last time you nudged someone on your team toward an unseen opportunity? How often do you take time from the pace of ministry and poured into your players? You have so much wisdom, use it to pour into your team! People will in return value the coach and the coaching.

Protection
If you want to keep your team together and build youth ministry longevity, you have to protect your people. You may need to protect them from an overreacting parent or even from their own destructive behaviors. You have to protect them with sound policies that focus on caring for them and for your students. Some failure is part of the learning process and healthy, too much can drive someone away or disqualify them for good. Knowing how much to give someone, when to press and when to let up, is an art a leader must master to keep his or her people.

These are critically important for your volunteers – but they’re important for you, too! How are you being trained, coached and protected?

JG



Was just randomly looking through books and tools that might help HSM in our next season and landed on a few that I’m interested in and/or look promising for some situations I’m facing that you may soon, too. Here’s a few items I’m excited about checking out:

If you’re stuck trying to figure out the work of youth ministrymaybe check out Duffy Robbin’s recently expanded and updated book Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts.

Youth ministry veteran and bestselling author, Duffy Robbins, offers an updated and revised edition of his book about the important, behind-the-scenes mechaincs of youth ministry. The tasks of budgeting, decision-making, time management, team ministry, staff relationships, conflict resolution, working with parents, and a range of other issues, are the things that keep a ministry together and functioning well. Nobody gets into youth ministry because they want to think about these things; but a lot of people get out of youth ministry because they didn’t think about them. All youth workers– whether paid or volunteer, full-time or part-time– will find Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts to be a thoughtful, fun, practical guide to youth ministry administration.

If you’re stuck on how to help parents get more engaged in raising their students I love Walt Mueller’s stuff and 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers looks like a cheap/simple resource to get into their hands quickly.

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you need all the help you can get. How do you help your children make wise choices? How do you give your teenagers freedom to make their own choices while still providing a guiding hand? How do you invest your time and energy in ways that make an eternal difference in your children’s lives? Walt Mueller delivers the goods in 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers, a no-holds-barred look at the good, bad, and ugly aspects of parenting teenagers. Drawing on his experience as a parent of four children who have passed through their teenage years, Walt shares wisdom, thoughts, insights, and suggestions for making the teenage years count.

If you’re stuck trying to communicate to students the same way … maybe you need to think about using some video curriculum for a while. What if you could bring in Doug Fields, Francis Chan and Max Lucado? I think this video teaching series from BlueFish looks awesome.

If you’re stuck trying to figure out teaching teenagers at all I can’t recommend Doug Fields’ and Duffy Robbins’ book Speaking to Teenagers. A gamer-changer in helping you learn to be a better communicator:

Get ready for a crash course in effective communication. More than just a book on how to “do talks,” Speaking to Teenagers combines the experience and wisdom of two veteran youth ministry speakers, along with insightful research and practical tools, to help you develop messages that engage students with the love of Christ and the power of his Word. Whether you’re crafting a five-minute devotional or a 30-minute sermon, Speaking to Teenagers is essential to understanding and preparing great messages. Together, Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins show you how they craft their own messages and give you the tools to do it yourself. They’ll guide you, step-by-step, through the process of preparing and delivering meaningful messages that effectively communicate to your students.

If you’re stuck in a creative rut … maybe Les Christie can help. The book Awaken Your Creativity shows a ton of promise for helping you get unstuck from doing the same old thing.

You know how tough it can be to come up with new and inventive student ministry ideas every school year. It can be infinitely more grueling to be that creative on a weekly basis! Whether you’re developing a new message, a unique way to get students talking and interacting, or something different for the weekend retreat, most of us find ourselves tapped for creative ideas after a little while. Take comfort: You’re not alone, and you’re not necessarily out of creative steam. Everyone hits a block at some point, but you can find a way to tap into the creativity God placed within you. Les Christie has been doing youth ministry for decades, and he’s not out of ideas yet! This practical book will help you explore the stumbling blocks, the tricks of the trade, and the catalysts to creativity.

JG

Thoroughly enjoying Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff. I’ve been a fan of his writing for a while, although originally dismissing his blog since it was an obvious knockoff of Stuff White People Like. That aside, Jon manages to take some fun and largely overdue shots at the Christian subculture that are welcome and highly entertaining. If you’ve never read “Treating Youth Ministers Like Silver Medal Ministers” or “The Mandatory Youth Minister Goatee“, you should immediately. The book is largely a collection of his blog posts so if you’re a fan you’ll love it for sure (and if not be sure to check out his blog here). Good, entertaining read making fun of us. Love it.

JG



Book Review: Rework

 —  March 15, 2011 — 1 Comment

Was able to read Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson over the last couple weeks. The book isn’t really that long, but my time for reading has been short the past month. Rework is a call for us to work differently – what you think you know about getting things done isn’t the right way at all. It is an invitation, permission even, to break all of the rules. Don’t have meetings. Don’t pull an all-nighter. Plans are at best guessing. The premise of the book is really that old school thinking is what holds you back, not stuff to live by. Ironically, it is really a new set of rules, albeit far more minimalistic than ever before.

The book is fantastic, especially since I never met a rule I didn’t want to break. It could have been titled, “Out of the Box”, “Think Different” or “Break The Rules” and they all would have applied. Need your thinking challenged? Need a nudge out of the box? Get this book.

JG

Quantcast

I am a youth pastor who oversees and teaches 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students. And anytime I prepare to teach a passage of the Bible to them, these are some of the first books I grab. Here’s why these are some of my essentials for teaching:

  • The ESV Study Bible — I use this because it has a very comprehensive section of notes which helps me keep my message on track with the Biblical context. Plus, it gives me other ideas of points I may have missed.
  • The IVP Bible Background Commentaries — I use these because they unpack the cultural background of everything that happens in a passage. So when you read, for example, in Ruth 4 that the kinsman-redeemer took off his sandal and gave it to Baoz, you get 150 words or more on the cultural meaning of this action at the time it was written. This is indispensable for knowing what’s going on and for helping contextualize it for a younger audience.
  • The Illustrated Guide To Bible Customs & Cultures — I use this because it has pictures. And it’s not as heady as the IVP Commentaries.
  • Zondervan’s Teen Study Bible — I’ll check in here to see if there are any teen-friendly explanations/illustrations of a certain part of Scripture. When they do, it’s usually pretty helpful for my audience (and is often something I hadn’t originally thought of).
  • The Student Bible — The one pictured above is the same Bible I used when I was a student in a youth ministry. The publisher put in some short student-friendly thoughts, but this Bible also has my notes and markings from when I was a student. It helps me remember what was important to me when I was the same age as my audience.
  • The Message//Remix — I don’t teach from this translation, but I read it as I prepare to pick up any other nuance I may have missed in the previous resources.

I pull these books off the shelf each week as I prepare to teach my students the truths of God’s Word. And for me, I’ve found them to be essential teaching tools in youth ministry.

Sean Kahlich is the Mid-High Youth Minister at The Kirk of the Hills — check out his youth ministry blog called Awaiting Epiteleo.



Watch live streaming video from waterbrookmultnomah at livestream.com

Today (at 2pm EST) there will be a live web streaming session with Gabe Lyons about his book The Next Christians. I think the people he is writing about are in your youth group now, or will be soon. Might be interesting to watch it today.

JG

Thanks to Josh for letting me guest blog on MTDB. I had to have him stare at a picture of Obi-Wan Kenobi saying, “These are not the droids you are looking for” to convince him. And it worked.

This can be a difficult time of year in youth ministry, especially for us northerners. Discouragement runs rampant like gossip among cheerleaders. And we question whether we’re in the right place. Pizza delivery jobs look attractive – and definitely less stressful. The reality is that youth ministry has a devious way of pressing us to the point where we feel frayed and spent — and we just want someone to clean up the mess in aisle ‘us’.

I want to say one thing: Stay Encouraged. What you do in youth ministry is important. I get to see the results of your work – and it matters. So, hang in there.

In my work with leaders, I’ve noticed five practices that help cure the ministry blahs. They aren’t anything you probably haven’t considered before, but that doesn’t mean they’re ineffective. So, here’s my prescription to cure the ministry blahs. And, hey, I am a doctor.

1. Take your temperature: Watch your reactions – especially when things don’t go your way. Do you get angry? Fearful/insecure? Depressed? Lonely? These emotions are the canaries in the cave to let you know something’s wrong ahead. Anger is most common and, unfortunately, most of us are unaware of how we respond to others. Pay attention to how you react and learn why you feel that way. Those feelings could be telling you something.

2. Develop a non-digital hobby — this one may seem weird, but it’s one of my new recommendations to leaders. And it helps. Most healthy leaders I see have a hobby where they work with their hands or get outdoors. It can be fishing, sailing, gardening, biking, golf, tennis, woodworking, bird watching, weight lifting – or even dodgeball. I’ve seen dramatic changes among hard-driving pastors — changes that their staff and family appreciate. And, no, scrap-booking doesn’t count.

3. Get away on a non-digital retreat – as I blogged a few weeks ago, the social media world draws us in and demands more and more. It’s never done. Take a two-day retreat from all of your screens and from consumerism’s “discontentedness”. Create some margins in your life — get acquainted with a good book, your spouse, and the outdoors.

4. Renew your first love — Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day (and I hope you’ve done well to celebrate). I’ve discovered that I need to renew my love for Jesus — to remind myself of what he’s done in my life and of his call on my life. When I’m in the blah’s, I’ve often forgotten the “to serve” element of youth ministry (Mark 10:35-45) and made it about me. So, I’ll do whatever it takes to renew my relationship with Christ and quit being so self-focused.

5. Take intentional ministry steps. Pick five students you don’t know well to invest in for the remainder of the school year. It’s easy to figure out how to coast until the end of the school year and just manage. However, developing an intentional and relationally intensive ministry to five new teens will remind us of why we entered youth ministry in the first place — to personally make a difference in the life of youth. Some of my greatest youth ministry ‘successes’ with students came during these February/March efforts.

If you tried any of these (and they helped), I’d love to hear about it. You can let me know at terrylinhart.com. And stay encouraged. What you do in youth ministry matters!

Terry Linhart is co-editor of the forthcoming book, GLOBAL YOUTH MINISTRY, and author of the popular TALKSHEETS: LIFE OF CHRIST series.