Great testimony video created by students to let Jacqueline share her story as part of the You Own the Weekend series. Love her and her story!

JG

Our high school ministry does really well with funny videos and usually comes up with some pretty strong programming bits for our youth group services. What I like about this video is that is sets up the students’ sharing time so well. Good stuff!

JG



Disciples of Who?

Chris Wesley —  January 8, 2013 — 2 Comments

You thrive on life change.  That’s what makes you a youth minister.  When life is tough, all you need is that one story of a teen finding Christ.  Living out the Gospel and showing you that all the pain, hurt and junk you’ve been through is worth it.  As youth ministers it’s not always about the energy, the numbers or the accolades, it’s about connecting the teens to Christ.

But, is that what’s really happening in your ministry?  Are you seeing stories of life change for Christ or something else?  Stories of life change can happen for many reason.  As youth ministers your hope is that they happen because of a personal and public relationship with Christ.  That might be happening in your ministry, but then again you might be raising up the next generation of disciples of YOUR CHURCH or YOUR MINISTRY.

It’s a mistake that’s easy to make.  It’s a trick the evil one plays on us all.  He’ll make the ministry about you, about a program or even an activity.  With those things and people comes hype, comes excitement and again life change.  But, if the life change doesn’t point to Christ you are creating a group of disciples with shallow faith.  That means a higher chance that your teens will  walk away when they move away.

So, how do you know if you are pointing teens in the right direction?  You can start by:

  • Observing The Fruit: What path are former teens taking as they graduate high school?  Are you finding teens becoming more public and aggressive with their faith?  What you need to do is sit down with your team and determine what it looks like when a teen is truly living out his or her faith.  This comes from creating a vision for your teens and coming up with signs that indicate you are fulfilling it.
  • Getting Their Story: Have a teen write out their life story.  How is God a part of it?  Or is their life change due to people and programs?  Help them see that God is writing their story and encourage them to give Him credit.  Sometimes the reason you are creating disciples of your ministry is because of a misalignment, correct it before it goes bad.
  • Ask Them Who They Want To Be:  If you ask them “Who do you want to be?” you’ll see how their faith is influencing the vision they have for themselves.  Are they describing someone who has been shaped by the world or someone who is being shaped by their faith?  Again you can have a conversation with them that will help them see how God is shaping their future.
  • Get An Outside Perspective: Talk to parents, coaches or teachers about the life journey they’ve seen in their students.  Make sure you are connected in the community to determine the true impact your ministry is having on their growth.  Are they only “Christian” inside your ministry or are they displaying Christ everywhere they go?

In the end each of your student has a decision whether or not they are going to follow Christ.  You need to guide, influence and encourage them to focus on Christ.  While you may never have a perfect success rate, you can increase Christ’ influence by pointing them towards Him.

How do you determine who a student is following?  

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

Our ministry is very evangelistic. How did it become that way? Good question—and one we’ve been processing in our own discussions this week, too. Here are a few of the reasons a student develops a heart for his or her lost friends, and how a whole bunch of teenagers like that create an infectious ministry.

Lead people to Jesus yourself.
Your ministry is usually a direct reflection of you. Want students to develop a deep sense of community? Be in one yourself and talk about its importance often. Want students to share about their failures and problems? Model vulnerability from the stage and you’ll get it in return. So if you want to produce evangelistic students—you can see it coming by now, can’t you?—share your faith with friends, families and neighbors often. Talk about the lost friend you’re praying for, show them how a conversation can point people to Christ.

Make sure everyone knows their own story.
Students need practical ways to share their faith with their friends—one of the best ways is helping them articulate their own spiritual journey. If their story is filled with sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll…that’s okay because it’s THEIR story—but make sure the focus rests squarely on Christ and his redemptive work. If their story isn’t quite that dramatic, encourage them to point out how much God saved them from and the potential they have following Jesus’ ways without the painful past. Either way, having everyone write out their personal story is a great way to help build evangelistic confidence.

Make prayer cards.
A super practical idea might be to help students simply jot down the names of friends who don’t know Jesus on a little card, and keep it in their wallets or purses. Whenever they see those names, they can pray that God would open the door for a spiritual conversation with a friend.

Create series that are easy to invite people to.
We need to be sure to teach the whole counsel of God—every word is ordained and inspired but not as easy for a first-timer to church to handle. At least once a year have a “bring a friend” series that’s designed to give them an easy felt-need they can invite someone to.

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.



Duck Dynasty is probably the best show on television. So I really enjoyed this video I stumbled on YouTube the other day. It is a chapel speech that Willie Robertson gave about his faith and life. Such great, simple stuff in his message. Enjoy!

JG

The Power of Testimonies

Josh Griffin —  September 20, 2012 — 1 Comment

I love adding a testimony to my message. I think it makes the sermon totally come alive!

For HSM’s Fall Kickoff this year I taught a message to each class (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) and for a couple of them I added a testimony to help give the talk a sense of realism and weight. The two students who shared, Jenna (an incoming freshman) and Bryce (starting his senior year), did an incredible job sharing their hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. I was so proud of them – a couple incredibly mature students!

We don’t always have a testimony, but when we do:

  • We give students direction for their story – but not usually too much lead time
  • Students have to simply read their testimony on the stage – it is the great equalizer
  • All testimonies are edited by someone from the team
  • Parents have to be aware of the content and sign off on it being shared

JG



Its no great secret, but the power of story is massive and in youth ministry and getting students to articulate their experiences and testimony is key. For years we’ve done our best to share students stories, but its been something we have nearly always done live. When students stand in front of one another and testify to the impact that Jesus has had in their life I get chills but it often ends there. We don’t record our services as of yet, and after that night many of the finite but important details of a students story or experience are lost or forgotten

It is for this reason that as the end of last year we made a conscious switch to doing all story via video. The motivations for this move were 5-fold:

1 – When the video is posted online, it can be shared or watched again by students who were impacted by it.

2 – Students tend to rehearse a bit more and have come more prepared for filming because we don’t allow them to read off a sheet of paper. Because they are prepared  they also tend to be more concise and clear.

3 – It allows our creative type people to use their skills and passions to serve in the production and editing process.

4 – We are able to share some stories without using any words.

5 – Students connect well to media (no surprise there)

The benefits have been huge already and the reaction so far to our “Journey Stories” have been very positive with leaders providing names of students whose testimony we need to hear. Students are drawn to media, so leveraging that into a vehicle to share the Gospel is a must do and something that there is great potential in for those that aren’t doing it already. My disclaimer is that it does take a lot more work. I like many of you am a bit of a Youth Ministry generalist, and wear a lot of different hats week in and week out so adding filming and editing video to my job description has been challenging, but the time invested is still more than worth it to me. I will be the first to admit that there are nights when a students testimony is more applicable, and communicates more effectively the life changing power of Christ  than any sermon I could preach.

So with that, here is out latest project which is an overview of our trip to Uganda this summer. The goal was to tell the story of our missions trip in a way that could be shared over social media. The response from our students has been overwhelming and the next missions trip might fill up very fast now and I am thrilled that, that could be a reality.

-Geoff (Twitter)

 

Senior Weekend was incredible with seniors owing the weekend – speaking, sharing their testimony, videos, decorations, theme – a strong ending to an incredible 4 years in HSM. Here’s one of the students who shared – Melissa Minkovsky did a great job of walking students through her past, present and future. Love it!

JG