I was watching my friend Parker the other night. He is an incredible student leader and a talented young man. He was working lights at our Saturday night service during our You Own the Weekend series. He was killing it, super passionate, incredibly creative – even his parents came to see his work! I looked around the room and was so happy – adults were around talking to students and generally keeping order – but in most cases, students were serving in a ton of areas.

Got me thinking – when did this happen? I can think of how not too long ago we didn’t have students serving in any significant way just a few years ago. When did students really start serving at our services like this? When did Parker move from attendee to ingenious lighting guy extraordinaire?

parker_lighting

The answer was simple – when we had a place for him to serve! When we had all sorts of specific opportunities, students jumped in! We made it simple to get involved, we had something for everyone at all levels of spiritual commitment.

Made me wonder if maybe you’re frustrated because students aren’t involved in your ministry … and maybe it is because there isn’t a role ready for them to immediately jump into. Maybe you have some ideas in your head but it isn’t clear to them. Maybe you want them to merge with your ministry but they’re having some trouble finding the on ramp. Seems elementary I know, but it made a huge change for us that paid massive dividends. Way to go Parker!

JG

One of my favorite things to do is meet up with other youth pastors. I walk away from each meeting feeling challenged, encouraged, and/or inspired. I recently got to meet with an awesome youth pastor named Jon from a church that is doing some pretty incredible things with campus outreach. Over some coffee, we talked about what we’ve done, what we’re doing, and what we’re going to. I walked away with a ton of really great ideas and (hopefully) he walked away with one or two. Here is a little of what I shared about our campus outreach projects:

Sticky-Note the Girl’s Restroom: At the beginning of the school year, some of our student leaders put encouraging sticky notes on every student’s locker and we were blown away by how well it went over. One of our student leaders was inspired by the success of the project and started planning another that was aimed at girls. So she rounded up some friends and put encouraging notes all over the girls’ restrooms at her school. The notes had encouraging Bible verses on them as well as affirmations like “you are beautiful,” “you are precious,” and “you are loved.” It was such a great and easy way to do ministry for girls.

Janitor Breakfast: When we were looking at different people groups that we could be serving on campus, we almost forgot about the janitorial staff. They are some of the most unnoticed/unappreciated people on the campus, so our leaders wanted to make sure that they knew they were seen and loved. Our leaders are planning to get to school before the janitorial staff so that they could serve them a fresh, warm breakfast and spend some quality time with them. I am a huge fan of projects like these because it has students serving and ministering to adults! We are currently making our way through the office approval system (fingers crossed)!

Trash Pick Up: A great way to keep Christian club meetings fresh at school is to mix them up. Most of the time, Christian clubs will sit, eat their lunch, listen to someone talk, and leave. Sometimes that works great, but Jesus called us to do more than just that. We are encouraging our school club leaders to put their club members to work. One of the lunchtime serving opportunities that we came up with was trash pick-up. If you haven’t seen a post-lunch high school campus recently, let me tell you, they are a warzone. Picking up trash not only helps put a dent in the litter problem, but it also makes a huge statement. Let’s face it, litter patrol isn’t a glamorous job and any student that does it is instantly going to be set apart, providing them with incredible opportunities! If a student gets asked why they are picking up trash, than they are getting an awesome opportunity about their love for Jesus and their love for their school!

How is your ministry doing with campus outreach? What ideas can you share about how to do ministry on campuses?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.



June is one of my favorite months for a couple reasons: 1) It’s my birthday, and 2) It’s when our ministry gets incoming freshmen!  One of the things that we wanted to do right off the bat is get the class of 2016 involved in our ministry.  In order to do this, we wanted to throw a ministry fair!

We centered our message around the importance of using your gifts and talents to build up the body of Christ (S.H.A.P.E., as we call it) and then released the students early into the ministry fair, where they walked through a room that had 15 booths, each featuring a different ministry or serving opportunity.  We got a great response from students and I’m really excited to see how this affects the serving culture in our ministry.  If you want to throw a ministry fair for your youth group, here are a couple things to keep in mind:

-Feature ministries outside of your youth group.  Some of us have a lot of great ministries that are completely owned by our youth group, which is great, but make sure your ministry fair roster doesn’t stop there.  Always make sure you are including serving opportunities and ministries that your church as a whole offers.  This is a great reminder for students that they are a part of something much bigger than just your youth group, strongly promoting church unity.

-Get students to run it.  Set yourself up so that you are simply booking the room and making sure there are tables ready to go.  Get students to “own” the booths.  In our ministry, students run almost every ministry team, so they were the ones to run them.  If your ministry teams aren’t set up that way, get some students that are really involved in it/have a huge heart for it to run the booth.  It is great for students that are looking to sign up for ministries to see, and be able to talk to, students that are already involved in the ministry

-Make it fun! Get your students to decorate their tables.  Our Crew Ministry (greeting team) went all out (picture is included) and had costumes, our band ministry had a student playing guitar, and our tech team had a camera set up for students to play with.  Make it a competition for your students, giving awards for how creative they got with their booth.  This will let your students feel more of an ownership and make the fair more inviting for the prospective students looking for ministries.

-The finishing touches.  Before the ministry team leaders got there, we put a small packet on their table that would thank them and get them informed.  It had a letter (to thank them for their involvement), a list/blurb about all the ministries featured and a map of where they are at (to keep them informed about the fair itself).  The last detail I would push is to have a “take-away” at each table.  We gave out 4×6 cards that had all the ministry info (what it is/where it is/who to contact) so that students had something tangible to walk away with.

All of our resources (leader packet and “take-away” cards) are included in this post.

If your ministry already does a ministry fair, what would you recommend?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.

This past weekend we did a message on SHAPE and hosted a ministry fair – as we were looking at the service at the last minute we needed a little filler video before the message. We quickly found this one and it was absolutely perfect! it is called It’s Time to Serve from Worship House Media – love, love, love it!

JG



Weekend Teaching Series: SHAPE + Ministry Fair (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence: The saved serve.
Service Length:
42 minutes

Understandable Message: This week my friend Jessica and I shared the stage to teach a short message on SHAPE (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences) and pointed students toward a ministry fair happening right outside the youth room immediately following the service. I love doing these this time of year – it gives us a chance to nudge freshman right into a place to serve and encourage all students to get involved in the church, serving and loving others.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week we kicked off promotion for our summer calendar and pushed hard for summer camp as we head toward sold-out status. Short service, but lots of energy!

Music Playlist: We Are the Free, Beautiful Things, All I Am

Favorite Moment: I LOVE that everyone in our church that has a ministry had a table set up – we had a ton of serve opportunities within HSM and a ton outside. Students had so many choices – love seeing them sign up and get involved today! I’ll do my best to get some pictures up here on the blog later this week, too.

Up next: STORIES (1-off)

Quick little promo video to help our high school students know about a great opportunity this summer – serving Saddleback Kids with our new VBS summer program called Sector 5. Looks like so much fun, so excited to get everyone involved!

JG



All this talk about working to integrate our students into church before they have to make a huge leap from youth group to the adult services is helpful. But what isn’t helpful is the voices who simply want you to drop everything you’re currently doing (and is working) and go with some new plan.

Sometimes you have to get rid of something and start over completely—but we’re not convinced this is one of those times. So here are a few suggestions to help you take baby steps toward the integration of youth ministry and the church.

Serve together…mostly
An easy way to get some quick inter-generational ministry happening in your church is to combine some of your serve projects immediately. Consider cancelling the majority of your youth group service projects and join those in place for the church at large. Imagine the conversations that will take place as people serve food, rake leaves, or paint together. Chances are the older people in your congregation will be just as surprised as your teenagers at how fun it was to serve side-by-side!

Worship together…occasionally
Most youth groups have their own worship service or Sunday School happening at the same time the rest of the church is gathered for worship. What if you completely cancelled your youth stuff once a month so the teenagers could attend church with their parents? Sure, some might choose to stay home that weekend, but it’s a fairly simple way to make a statement that says, “25% of the time, our church worships together…and we need the teenagers to be part of the action!”

Mission trips…maybe
One of the big steps we’re considering is to integrate mission trips. Offering a Spring Break trip? What it everyone got involved? Is there a big church-wide trip to South America or Africa? Get behind it and take some students! Each church has their own missions agenda/format, but this is something worthy of consideration.

Overnighters…never
Hey, there are some things adults are happy are totally separate from them. Keep overnighters this way…but be thankful for the adults who do show up, give up sleep, and care for your students.

Where else is there opportunity for easy integration between your youth ministry and the church?

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.

Sure love what the gang over at Help Ink are doing – I just got a few T-shirts from them and absolutely love the concept. If you’ve got a second, stop on over there and check it out:

Help Ink is a collaborative project, using the sale of premium and exclusive art to help charities in an exciting way. With each purchase you’ll be doing your part to help charitable organizations and individuals around the world.

JG