Unlike our students, I’m really excited for the school year to start.  This semester, I get the chance to help shape the way our ministry does campus outreach.  Of course, this means we get to throw some pretty awesome events (i.e. tailgate parties!), but we wanted our ministry’s outreach and involvement to be more than that.

Our ministry is made up of (mostly) 5 VERY different schools, and we wanted to make sure that we ministered to each campus accordingly.  The problem is that, as adults, there is only so much we can know about a school.  We only know what we are told, making it hard for us to correctly identify the school’s individual needs and effectively meet them.  Because of that, we are trying something brand new this year, School Teams.

The vision for School Teams is to have a group of students at each campus who love their school and are committed to meeting its unique needs.  We want them to unify and empower the Body of Christ at their school to not just sit together in their own clique, but to go out to serve and evangelize.  This could be anything from a campus clean-up event, to a freshmen cookie party on the first day of school.  The possibilities are ENDLESS!

These students will be our “go-to” people for each school.  This means a couple things for them.  It means that if we ever have a new student in our ministry that isn’t involved or connected at their school yet, we introduce them to a school team member who will make them feel welcome on their campus.  The second meaning of being a “go-to” is that they are letting us know about important news updates at their school.  If there school is doing a food drive, we want to know about it! How great would it be to help empower a school to collect food for a local homeless shelter?  Our students would also let us know about any tragedies at their school.  It would be awesome if, after service, a school got together to pray for a classmate or faculty member.

Even though we are creating special teams for each school, we still encourage ALL of our students to love their school and be a light at it.  School Teams are just our ministry’s way of ministering to schools through ministering students.

We presented this to our Student Leadership team and gave them the opportunity to apply for it.  We used an application for this because it allows us to see their heart for their school and it shows the level of commitment they have for the program.  Here’s a copy of the application for our ministry’s School Team you can download right here.

How about you, what do are you doing this next school year to minister to your local schools?

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.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs a really big high five.

#SometimesMinistryIs receiving panicked calls from mommas who need your help with their teens.

‪‪‪#SometimesMinistryIs laughing so hard that you are crying.

#SometimesMinistryIs calling a student out and helping them to see their own sin.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs just dropping by to see how someone is doing.

‪‪#SometimesMinistryIs filling up water balloons… and throwing them.

#SometimesMinistryIs knowing a student has made some really bad choices but always making sure they know that you and Christ love them.

#SometimesMinistryIs buying a teenager a milkshake.

‪‪‪#SometimesMinistryIs sitting by the bed of someone at a nursing home.

#SometimesMinistryIs dancing and singing kids’ songs really really loudly!

#SometimesMinistryIs taking a student out to lunch so they can talk with you about something serious.

#SometimesMinistryIs playing a game of ultimate frisbee so intense that you rip off a toenail.

 

Ministry is Professional.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs scrambling to find one more chaperone for summer camp.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs intense (and slightly boring) budget planning.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs encouraging someone to volunteer to do something you know they would be GREAT at.

#Sometimes MinistryIs staff meetings.

#SometimesMinistryIs stopping in your busy schedule to do the hard work of praying for students.

#SometimesMinistryIs insisting on a medical release form, even though it is inconvenient.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs a non-church civic club meeting, because you’re investing in the community.

#SometimesMinistryIs playing phone tag FOREVER with someone to solve an important question.

‪‪#SometimesMinistryIs the best job in the world.

#SometimesMinistryIs not a job at all; it is instead the calling that your other job pays the bills to allow you to do.

 

Ministry includes Your Own Family.‪‪

#SometimesMinistryIs praying with your spouse.

#SometimesMinistryIs date night with your daughter, even if you have to miss a church thing.

#SometimesMinistryIs empowering your spouse to do their own ministry

#SometimesMinistryIs playing with your own children at home at night, and ignoring a phone call.

 

Ministry is Always God.

‪‪#SometimesMinistryIs sitting at a table with a brother pouring over the Word planning to present it in a new and exciting way.

#SometimesMinistryIs watching a student make bad decisions and knowing the best thing you can do about it is to pray.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs listening to a student explain the gospel back to you and praising God for his Christian parents’ training.

‪#SometimesMinistryIs listening to a student explain the gospel back to you, and realizing they do not yet understand what it is they are thinking about doing

‪#SometimesMinistryIs having to take a step back so that you don’t get in the way of what God is trying to do.

#SometimesMinistryIs just the purest ecstasy of full-on, eyes-closed, on-your-face worship of the One who saved you from yourself.

 

Ministry.

#ManyTimesMinistryIs just plain hard.

#AlwaysMinistryIs worth it.

#Always.

(Special thanks to @ColvinEarl @savedman97 for their contributions.)

Aaron Tucker has served teenagers since he was one, and currently serves youth of all ages at First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, Mississippi. He is Oklahoma-born (Go Sooners!) and Mississippi-raised (Go Bulldogs!), and loves Christ and family and coffee and youth ministry in Small Town USA. He tweets @Rev_Tucker



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.


Loved this post from Doug Franklin over at LeaderTreks -made me thankful for the progress we’re making right now with our newly relaunched Student Leadership program as well. It is a great article – head there for the whole thing – here’s a great clip from near the end…

When a student leadership team is run well it will:
1.    Not be for every student in your youth group
2.    Require students to meet a standard of behavior for application
3.    Meet on a regular basis
4.    Study leadership principles
5.    Have students in real and important leadership roles
6.    Allow students to make decisions without direction from adults
7.    Students will face consequences for their decisions
8.    Students will see themselves as the owners of their youth group
9.    Will have adult facilitators who are passionate about student leaders
10.    Will challenge students to do the impossible

JG



One of the most difficult, yet important, times in a student ministry is the moment you transition students from the middle school ministry to the high school ministry.  In a matter of weeks, an 8th grade student goes from being the older, cooler, more mature student to being the young new freshmen.  This transition can be scary and is often a difficult one; it’s easy to lose students as we try to transition them from being an active middle school student into being an active high school student.  Because a healthy junior high ministry will promote a healthy high school ministry, we do a few things to encourage students as they make their transition from middle school to high school.

High School student leaders. As a part of our middle school ministry, we encourage some of our older high school students to attend some of the middle school retreats as leaders.  Whenever we have high school students leading on retreats, the relationships that are built between the two groups is incredible.  And because of this, there are healthy relationships built with high schoolers and some natural promotion of high school events and programs.

Dual role volunteers. There are a few volunteers that spend time volunteering for both the middle school and high school ministries.  This is great as it provides some familiar faces as students make the jump from one to the other.  Because of the comfort of having a leader that you already know, I also try to make a point to join our high school team on a couple of retreats throughout the year.

Encourage 8th graders to make the jump now. With our 8th grade students they are able to start doing high school activities as early as May.  I do everything that I can to encourage our students to start trying out the high school stuff and continue to encourage them as they come back and tell me about their experiences.  As much as I will miss our 8th grade students, I want them to try out the high school ministry significantly more than have them stick around the middle school ministry.

Allow hesitant students more time. Sometimes students really don’t want to make the switch.  While eventually we will have to force them to make the switch, we allow our 8th grade students to do any high school or middle school activity all summer long.  It’s a special perk that only 8th grade students get because they can pick and choose the best of both worlds.  We do this for the students that need a few extra months to make the jump to the high school group.

Keep the door open. It’s sad to see students leave the middle school ministry.  But it’s exciting to know the incredible experiences and faith growth that they will experience in the high school ministry.  I make it a point to always welcome our high school students into the room.  It’s a great opportunity for me to continue the relationships that I started in middle school and also it makes the high school students appear less scary to the much smaller, less hairy middle school students.

RJ Grunewald is a middle school pastor who also has made a few apps for the iPhone.  He blogs his thoughts about youth ministry, technology, and theology at rjgrune.com.

Today, I was talking to someone about all of the awesome things the Lord has been doing through the student leaders in our ministry.  As I was telling them about one of the projects a student was working on, they said, “Really? A high school student came up with that?”  What bums me out about that story is that I wasn’t surprised that they said that.  People have such low expectations of what a high school student can do and what’s even worse is that the high school students believe them.

One of the most important things I have learned since I started working with student leaders is that they all (even the confident ones) have a “wall” in their minds about what they think they are capable of.  Often, that wall is holding them back from executing the things that God has put on their hearts.  Our role, as their pastor, is to tear that down.

So how do we do it?

We need to make sure we do 3 things:

Empower: We need to be empowering our students to pursue the things that God has put on their heart.  Ask them how they are gifted.  Ask them what people group (elderly, hospitalized children, military families, etc.) their heart has been breaking for.  Then push them to go and do something about it!  Part of that means actually empowering them.  Maybe that means giving one aspect of your ministry to a student; empowering them and trusting them.

Mentor: Mentor your leaders through the process of turning an idea into a reality.  Teach them what it takes to organize or run an event or ministry.  Walk through their ideas with them.  Not every idea is going to be a winner, and if it isn’t, help them understand why it wouldn’t work out (maybe talking it out with them will even help them come up with a whole new approach to their idea).  If they come up to you with something that is already great, walk them through the steps to improve it and make it happen.

Grow: We can’t be throwing our students into leadership positions without first growing them as leaders.  Some might know how to be leaders at their school or on their sports teams, but they might not know what it means to be a leader at their church (spiritual leader).  Teach them what it means to lead like Christ.  Help them discover their spiritual gift(s) and overall leadership style.  Help them grow into confident spiritual leaders.

So far, we have seen this work in our church.  It has been so great to see students leading and creating new ministry teams and service projects!  Right now, we have a student developing an art/craft ministry, another student working on a ministry where students write encouraging letters to various people groups and organizations, and even a student working on a student pastoral care team!

What about you? What are the student leaders at your church doing in your ministry?

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.



If you give LeaderTreks a little information about yourself they’ll in turn give you 50 brand new freebies from their website. Just downloaded the bundle myself and saw health assessments, team building initiatives, illustrations, Bible studies, activities and more. Good stuff!

JG

Stop the Bottleneck

 —  February 15, 2012 — 3 Comments

If there’s a bottleneck in your ministry, guess what? It’s probably you!

Think about it for a second — you’re the point person of the ministry, so doesn’t it make sense that decisions roll up through you? In a centralized leadership structure (like most churches) there is one central figure, usually a youth pastor, who is tasked with making the call on a variety of issues. But therein lies the problem: everything comes to a screeching halt when that person has too many plates spinning. When they are on vacation, good luck moving everything forward. If and when they leave, it all comes crashing down.

If you’re the point person, aka the bottleneck, consider this plan in the next season of ministry:

Realize you are an equipper
The pastor is not supposed to control everything — your primary job is to equip others to do the work of the ministry. Make sure you are helping others do great ministry, not just helping out with yours.

Give as much of your ministry away as possible
One of the most painful times in ministry is when you begin to give away the things that you love. But you will be healthier, and you will relieve pressure on the bottleneck. Yesterday we talked about giving away the stuff you don’t like, but holding on to too much stuff you do like, is classic bottleneck behavior.

Trust them with decisions
Don’t take back what you gave. Refuse to look over their shoulder every second of the day. Trust them with the tasks and responsibilities you gave them and have confidence their calls. If you’ve done a good job of preparing (and equipping) they’re ready for this. There will be some pains along the way, but they will be growing pains…and it hurts so good!

Regularly evaluate and guide
What if instead of holding everyone back by being the bottleneck, you helped everyone get better. If you give ministry away, you add a new opportunity to coach your people and help strengthen their skills. Next, you can mentor and guide them to give their ministry away, too — maybe this time to a student!

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.