Here at Vanderbloemen Search Group, we are often asked, “What is everybody else doing out there?” Since we work with many churches and student pastors throughout the country, we have the honor of seeing what some of the most growing churches are doing in their student ministries. Every student ministry is unique, but here are a few trends we’re seeing in growing churches:

1. Small Groups – Generation Y craves relationships. Student pastors often share with us that the best discussion and discipleship happens in the context of small groups. Some churches have their small groups on Sundays, and some have them throughout the week. Some have them at the church facility and others have them in homes. Regardless of the approach, we are seeing that small groups are a pivotal part of healthy student ministries.

2. Leadership Development – We find that the healthiest student ministries are equipping their high schoolers with leadership skills to lead Bible Studies, outreach events, and mentor programs to the middle schoolers. We also see churches involving the youth in the Sunday service, training them with responsibilities of sound, lights, worship, etc… Developing an effective leadership program may be time consuming at first, but the long-term benefits are worth it. Many youth pastors we talk to bring on a few of their high school leaders as interns over the summer. These students often pursue ministry after high school.

3. Volunteer Training – Recruiting volunteers can be one of the most challenging aspects of ministry for student pastors. It’s difficult to find dedicated volunteers who also have the “cool factor” that high school kids are looking for. We find that youth pastors who succeed in finding great volunteers invest in their training and development. Bring in a leadership coach and be sure that your volunteers have the resources they need to invest in your students.

4. Separating Jr & Sr High – Some of the most growing ministries are separating the Jr and Sr high worship services to provide a more tailored message to the age groups. Jr highers are concerned about different topics than Sr highers, and the way you approach topics with each group should be different. We’re noticing that growing churches are developing separate teams over Jr and Sr high with a director leading the vision of both ministries.

5. Outreach – We see students craving purpose and meaning. Student pastors are getting students out in the community to serve under-resourced communities. Students like being given significant challenges and responsibilities. Effective student pastors are also networking with local schools to identify the scope of their ministry responsibilities beyond the walls of the church.

Depending on the unique needs of your students, these strategies may or may not be effective in the context of your ministry. If you’re using these strategies in your ministry, we’d love to hear your thoughts! If not, what strategies have you found to be effective for your students?

Thanks to VSG for this guest post! They are currently searching for Student Pastors who are dynamic leaders in a few churches like this one in NV and this one in GA.

Most youth workers I know have one thing in common…they try to do too much. Many of us are perfectionists. Many leaders care so much that they give too much. Many leaders don’t know how to recruit. Sometimes we just reach teens quickly and we seem to never be able to catch up.

I have been that guy trying to do everything. I finally started asking for help but I made a critical mistake. I started dumping responsibility on people who were willing instead of looking for leaders who could partner with me in ministry. When you dump responsibility you look for a willing person and give them stuff to do that you don’t want to mess with. You basically ask them to do the work and leave you alone so you can do other things. Sure, it helps for the short term but when they have other things to do they will hand you back the responsibility. I leaned in the process I needed sharp leaders who would partner with me in ministry so they understood the why behind the what! Here are four kinds of leaders we need to be empowering…

  • Small Group Leaders / these are leaders who will invest in teens intentionally like you wish you could do for every teen. They will mentor, guide, clarify, instruct, encourage, and pray for teens on a weekly basis. These leaders are extensions of you doing youth ministry and they are the most important partners you will have.
  • Detail Leaders /  these are leaders who are gifted administratively and can help you by talking care of the details that bog us down on a weekly basis. These leaders can organize, delegate, and systematize but they may not be great with teens. Let them thrive in the detail so you can lead the big picture!
  • Presence Leaders / these are leaders who care for teens but may not be ready to lead a small group. They just want to serve teens and help where needed when they are available. They love teens and they love your ministry but they have other things that pull them away from leading a small group. Let them run a cafe, work the parking lot, or help run games during programing.
  • Tech Leaders / these are leaders who love the digital side of what we do but may not be good at other areas of student ministry! Let them make your environment look , feel, and sound better.

What are some “leader types” that you empowered and they made you and your ministry better? What keeps you from empowering leaders?

Michael Bayne is Family and Student Pastor at Grace Community Church, Clarksville TN. Follow him on Twitter at @michael_bayne and read more of his writing at www.michaelbayne.net



Hey everyone from NYWC 2012 – Dallas!

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 yesterday:

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

JG

Just finished reading a pre-release copy of Darren Sutton’s new book, Everyone is Called to Youth Ministry (releases tomorrow). It is a great book with a simple premise that in reality is a great resource to challenge you to think creatively how to attract, recruit, train and encourage volunteers in your youth ministry. Excited for you to check out this new resource from LeadersTreks!

If you’re a full time youth worker, you have a lot on your plate. Parent meetings, planning a calendar, budgets, teaching, big events, small groups, keeping your senior pastor in the loop, and oh yeah, building relationships with students. Even if you had multiple people teaming up to take on all the responsibilities of the youth ministry, you still would not be able to get everything done. You need a team, but often building that team seems impossible.

In this bold new look at recruiting and training quality adult staff and volunteers, Darren Sutton challenges our thinking on who is called to serve in the youth ministry. Hint: it’s everyone. Darren’s humor will draw you in, and his wisdom and experience in youth ministry will challenge your perspectives on who to recruit and how to train them. This book will help you look everywhere for adults who can passionately serve in youth ministry. After all, everyone’s called to youth ministry…they just don’t know it yet.

JG



This week we’re talking volunteers! A key part of any youth ministry is the leadership team. If you’re doing ministry all alone, you’re going to bottleneck growth or burn out—take time to build a great team and you’ll never regret it.

But building a great team can be a big challenge! Today we’re going to blast out a few bullet points that we think will help you surround yourself with a great group of like-minded youth workers:

Recruit Well
• Ask God to lead you to the right people within your church.
• Look for key places to find people—men’s/women’s Bible study groups, the college ministry, leaders moving up with their younger students, etc.
• Resist the urge to just make a blanket announcement; you’ll get “zeros” who will hurt you in the long haul or “heroes” who are already volunteering for everything and are overcommitted.
• If you have a red flag at any point in the process, pass on that person. Better to have a difficult conversation before than have to clean up a mess after.

Place Well
• In part of your interview, talk through their passions and gifting.
• Personality plays a big role in success of using volunteers well. Factor in personality.
• Place people based on their available time; if someone is stretching to be a small group leader, it might be too much commitment and you might want to suggest another role.
• Finally, place them according to their gifts and availability…not according to your needs!

Train Well
• Prepare your people for common challenges they will encounter in their role serving students.
• Promise (and deliver on that promise when necessary) that you’ll be there when they face something they don’t feel super prepared for.
• Resource them with articles, books, and back-pocket guides to help them group as a leader.

Encourage Well
• Remember their birthdays, send encouraging notes, etc.
• Be present when you speak to them; pouring into them is, by extension, pouring into your students.
• Gather regularly for celebration, training, and story-telling.

What else needs to be done well in order to build a great team? Add your thoughts!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Yesterday my friend Matt McGill was talking about delegation to volunteer youth leaders and said something that really stuck with me:  you need to delegate until it stings. Love it!

  • Delegate: when you could do it better
  • Delegate: when you know someone will fail and need coaching
  • Delegate: when it is easier to just do it yourself
  • Delegate: the little stuff
  • Delegate: the big stuff
  • Delegate: the things you’re not good at
  • Delegate: the things you’re the best at
  • Delegate: the things you love
  • Delegate: the things you hate
  • Delegate: something that will really challenge/develop the other person
  • Delegate: until it stings

JG



Today’s Deal of the Day from Simply Youth Ministry is the Volunteer’s Back Pocket Guide to Sex by Craig Gross. Until midnight tonight it is just $2.99 – and a great resource to get in the hands of your team as they talk about God’s plan for their sex life.

Teenagers live in a sex-saturated world. And for many of them, sex has become a purely physical act, fully divorced from spirituality, love, and commitment. Sex, pornography, and “hooking up” are all met with the same response: “It’s no big deal.”

Too many of our students don’t know where to turn to learn about sex, leaving many feeling confused, fearful, and alone. Teenagers who struggle with sexual addiction or unhealthy patterns don’t know how to find freedom and healing from the choices they’ve made, and they’re afraid the church will label them as perverts if they’re open and honest about their deepest struggles.

But amidst these sobering realities, there is good news: Youth workers are on the front lines of the battle to shape, challenge, and encourage teenagers toward sexual wholeness and purity. The Volunteer’s Back Pocket Guide to Sex will help you as you aid students in navigating a path that honestly addresses all the challenges they might face, while honoring God along the way.

Authors Craig Gross—founder of XXXchurch.com—and Cris Clapp Logan—an Internet safety expert, artist, and writer—don’t sugarcoat the realities, and they don’t hold back in bluntly, honestly tackling the toughest topics, including pornography, sexuality, masturbation, and purity. Using God’s truth as the foundation for the conversation, they’ll equip you with practical information and powerful strategies to help you become a volunteer youth worker who helps teenagers live wisely and walk in freedom!

JG

The gang over at LeaderTreks just released a new free volunteer training lesson today to help your volunteers understand the purpose of your youth ministry.

Square One gives you the opportunity to talk to your adult volunteer about youth ministry basics that we often forget. Purpose, structure, strong teaching and building intentional relationships can make your youth ministry great. LeaderTreks has developed these short 30-45 minute training downloads to help you in this process.

This free lesson, The Purpose of Youth Ministry, will help your adults have a correct view of youth ministry. Many adult volunteers think youth ministry is the ministry of the church to students when in reality youth ministry is the ministry of students to their world.

JG