There’s a student causing a commotion in the room – what do you do? This simple and easily-remembered punch list (I think the first 3 are of Kurt Johnston origin with a new 4th “R” from me) will help you or your volunteers handle the situation well:

Request – this is the simple ask for improved behavior. This is almost always the right first step. I like one comment yesterday to a post saying give them “the eye” as a ‘pre-talking to’ move.

Reseat – move them closer to the leader or away from their partner in crime. I like to think of this as “within reach factor” or where a swift elbow to the ribs will bring him into line.

Remove – you may have to remove them from the situation. Remove them for a few minutes, or the rest of youth group, maybe take them home, or ask them to take a few weeks off. Removal is a necessary part of handling something like this. Lead with grace here and you won’t have regrets.

Relay – involve the parents. Make sure the parents are in the loop and ask them to partner with you on making sure the disruptive behavior doesn’t happen again.

If it is a new student, show more grace while they learn the culture of church and what is expected of them. Be quick to discipline a known offender, be slow to disciplining someone who you don’t have a relationship with at all. You may want to check out this older post called How to Remove a Student from Your Small Group as well. Other thoughts – remember they have to start with R?

JG

There are a ton of reasons small groups don’t work for people. It is easy to look at the group and point fingers at others but the best place to find some answers is to look closely at yourself. In my experience I’ve seen several attitudes that stop true community from forming in student small groups. I was able to share 4 of these pitfalls as a warning to students this week at our Life Group kickoff:

Just don’t say anything
This is the person who gets to group and refuses to say anything at all. He or she will not let ANYONE in or say ANYTHING. They will not be vulnerable and refuse to let someone in. They are simply putting in their time, or perhaps they were hurt in a previous group and don’t trust people out of the gate. Community can’t happen with that mindset.

The TMI guy
This is the classic “oversharer” the person who talks on and on about everything in their life. The person who refuses to stop talking about themselves, and redirects all of the conversations to cleverly make it about them. The person who won’t open up LOVES this person, so they can continue sitting on the sidelines of the group.

The 10% rule
This is the person who shares just enough to satisfy their leader – or shares enough of their story to get correction that doesn’t sting. They tell the story slanted to their perspective that favors them. Some choose to share just 10% – just enough to keep the conversation going without getting deep. Some share 90% – and leave out the last part to disguise the real problem or the severity of the issue.

Us vs. them
Community isn’t just you and your peers – it is a connection with your leaders as well. I was talking to one of our leaders this week who said “I think they would be surprised at what I would show up at if they just let me in.” Build then keep unity within your group. Students who deflect genuine community by attacking the leader never win. Community says we’re all in this together and rejects cliques and insiders/outsiders.

So what do we do?
1) Identify the walls and masks in your life
2) Make yourself vulnerable to the others in your group
3) Share … all of it
4) Lead others by your example and unity

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-12

JG



My of my great joys in ministry is being able to train volunteer and youth workers from different Churches and work to equip them to leader better. One of the most important things that I try and help them understand is that they have a voice in their student’s lives that is unlike any other. Students have all kinds of people that influence them and when it comes to adults in their lives, teachers, parents and youth workers are often the big three.

But it’s important that we recognize that our voice is unlike any other in the life of High School students and here is why:

Our Voice is Unique: When it comes to adults in a teen’s life, at some point they have to listen to their parents and they have to listen to their teachers as well.  Students don’t have to listen to us, they choose to. They have to go to school, have to live at home, but choose to go to youth group. The fact that students choose to listen to us means that our voice has weight and influence.  We can meet a student for coffee; something they might be mortified to do with their parent and not allowed to do with a teacher, it’s a great setup for us.

Our Voice Is Respected: When students choose to listen to us, it’s a statement of respect that they value what we say.  Being a youth worker is a bit of a hybrid of the friend / mentor role and with that comes the ability to speak into the life of a student with wisdom and life experience. When our voice is respected, our lives are as well so be mindful of what you endorse, intentionally or accidentally.

Our Voice Can Be Objective:  Being slightly removed from life at home and life at school coupled with the relationship we have with students gives us a unique perspective that has little obvious bias other than to uphold Biblical values. Helping students to look outside themselves and to look at a situation in a different way is challenging but doable. This is a keen opportunity for us to help students experience Matthew 5 conflict resolution and encourage them through the process as a supportive third party.

Recognizing my unique voice was a bit of a Spider-man moment for me, you know? – With great power comes great responsibility, but a better example would be in Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded”.  You have an incredibly powerful and influential voice in the life of a young person. Use it wisely to pour into them, challenge them and build them up into young men and women after God’s own heart. We need to know this, our leaders need to know this.

-Geoff (Twitter)

 

Hey everyone from NYWC 2012!

Thanks for making our youth ministry workshop on small group leaders so fun this weekend — I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are the links from the 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leader workshop that I promised you this weekend:

If you remember something from the session I forgot – let me know in the comments and I’ll track it down for you!

JG



There’s a new candy that is taking over this area by storm – if you haven’t had it or heard of it yet you will. I’ve only found it in one place so far (Staples of all places) but I understand it is rolling out nationwide in Target, Walgreens and a jillion others shortly. Unreal.

So I saw that this video was trending on YouTube and happened to come across the candy in the store. Felt like there was something there. Here’s where I landed today:

TEAM MEETING
I played the video then we discussed the candy – I gave everyone their own bar to try. We talked about a ton of various applications to life and ministry. My big takeaway was that a video or website might get someone into the front doors of your ministry, but it all comes down to taste. If someone has a bad taste in their mouth (a parent has a poor interaction with a team member, an event doesn’t have adequate supervision, etc) all the flashy marketing, endorsements and history go out the window. And people that don’t like the taste of something (tastemakers) tell others and have incredibly negative influence. On the other hand a parent who leaves with a good taste in their mouth tell others in a hurry to try it out for themselves.

LIFE GROUP
At the last minute tonight I figured out a pretty cool tie in with my talk about our small group covenant. I didn’t have a strong opening so decided to play the video for students – and talked about how this company is making a commitment to “healthy candy” and making sure all of the ingredients are organics, no artificial flavors, etc. I talked about how this is a promise between the company and you, and there is a bond of trust between the two parties. I then compared it to the covenant that we make in a small group – a covenant to be honest, accountable, courteous, loving, confidential, etc. I gave a pack of Unreal to the winners of the game and another pack to each group to split among the members of their Life Group as they discussed and signed the small group covenant.

Unreal. Used it randomly twice today. And it tastes pretty good, too!

JG

PS: Our Staples is now almost sold out – Life Groups hit it up right after the lesson ended! Anyone from Unreal want to sponsor HSM? hahahah #getunreal

Absolutely loved this super-practical article from Gen 2 Gen Youth Ministry. It answers and gives some helpful pointers to a great question: how do I add/welcome in new students to an established small group? Really helpful stuff, here’s a clip, head there for the whole article – it make a great handout for your volunteers!

  • Don’t talk about the past. This might seem a little extreme at first glance, but let me explain. The more you use lines like, “Remember that time when…?” and “How great was it when…?!” the more you’ll make the new guy realize he’s new. Try to focus as much as possible on the present and future. Talk about where the group currently is, and the hopes you have for where you want them to be.
  • It’s not just awkward for the new guy. Chances are, your group may be a little uneasy about bringing in an “outsider” if they’re really well connected. Help them to see that they can’t be exclusive, and that everyone deserves an opportunity to be in a great youth group–even if it’s a little awkward at first.
  • Keep your lessons at a level everyone can understand. You may have students who’ve been Christians for a while and a new student might be new to this whole Christian thing. Keep your lessons interesting for both groups.

JG

 



I shot out a quick note to our team this week right before our parent reception and Life Group Meet ‘N Greet. Just some quick reminders when partnering with parents!

  • Be full of grace and meekness.
  • Be positive. Attitude is everything!
  • Admit mistakes. It is OUR fault. Even when it is not our fault it is our fault.
  • If you are unclear in any way if you can accommodate a request, do not promise. Be realistic with the hope that you give a parent/student and their situation.
  • Work HARD to fix the problem. Get creative, leave no stone unturned looking for a solution. Nothing is worse than your supervisor finding a solution in 2 seconds that you should have found, too.
  • Pastor our people! We want to minister to parents, so pastor them, encourage them, brag on their kids, etc.
  • Give out our materials like candy! It will be a HIT with the parents and put right into their hands.
  • BE YOU. You are awesome. You are fun, you love this place and love these students.

JG

I did a LIVE Curriculum giveaway (a $500 value) back in August and then left on vacation – and never picked a winner! I’m so sorry – I had such a great time away and then came back and didn’t give it another thought. This week I mentioned it to the guys at Simply Youth Ministry and they decided to give 2 more LIVE editions away to make up for me being an idiot! So congrats to ALL 3 winners:

Congrats! Thanks to everyone who entered!

JG