blue-three-300x299I love the craziness of large groups where I get to see a bunch a students at once. I love mowing through giving hugs and high fives and randomly having greeting tribal dance offs with students. haha Another element that I love is having one on one time with students where we get to talk about Jesus and life. I think for a lot of youth workers this is an area that they may struggle with or not be as comfortable with as they want to be. I wrote a post a while ago that deals with the importance of why these three things matter to me. Go here to check it out!!! So I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned that has helped me in one on one situations.

1. Take Control - Even though you want the student to share more than you, take control and facilitate. You will probably start off making small talk which is great and sometimes the only thing needed, but sometimes you want to guide the conversation to an area they may need to get some guidance or prayer. I’ve found that students expect you to stir the conversation. I’ve also learned that my influence in their life grows, when I show genuine concern for the good and the bad in their life. Here’s an example of something I’ll do: Instead of just asking them how’s life, I’ll say let’s have a seat and then I’ll be specific about the areas I want to hear about. You will be surprised with the response you get. If they don’t have time I’ll say “great, let’s get together this week or I’ll say “I’ll catch you on Facebook.” I’ll leave a message with specific questions for them to answer. Again, you will be surprised at the response. Just a caution: when communicating over social media always think about context. My rule of thumb is “communicate as if their parents are sitting right by their side as they read what you’re sending.

 

2. Use Discernment - Every time you get the opportunity to talk one on one with a student consider it a golden moment. I’ve learned that you can burn that moment very quickly if you are not discerning of when to push them and when to let it go. Every conversation doesn’t have to be a come to Jesus moment. Like I said, sometimes small talk is all that’s needed and you need to be able to discern that. You also need to be able to discern when they need to hear the truth of God’s word.

 

3. Pray With Them – I know this sounds like a no brainer but I don’t think we can stress this enough. What we pray for with our students sends a signal concerning what God cares about. If we only pray about the big stuff with them then we are modeling that God only cares about the big stuff. God cares about the test they have that’s stressing them out. God cares about them performing at their best for a game that they have. He cares about it all. We need to model that to them. So look in all areas in which you can pray for them. I always hear people say God’s got bigger things in this world to care about than my little situation. I always wonder who modeled such a small view of God to them.

 

I could’ve listed more but I really wanted to zero in on the top three things that helps me get the most out of the time I spend with students. I have a lot of fun hanging with students but I also know that they need more than just fun. They need Jesus and that’s the primary assignment God has given me being in youth ministry. So what has helped you connect with students better?

 

hope it helps

ac 

@aaroncrumbeyAC

I surprised Kurt this week with a rapid fire Q&A. I wanted him to tap into his 20 plus years of experience. Here’s the list of questions. 1.Balance ministry and life? 2.Ask for more budget or a budget? 3.New position, new church what do I do first? 4.Staff dating each other? 5.Regain trust after a moral failure? 6.Stress of ministry? 7.Disruptive volunteer/parent/student?

Leave questions or topics you would love to hear us discuss in the comment section or email us at talkaboutym@gmail.com.

hope it helps

ac & kurt



FIVE-682_747448aOne of the things I get to do with being in pastoral care is listen to a lot of what’s going on in students lives. And what I’ve come to realize is that youth ministry compensates for a lot. God has us in a space like no other. Never think that what we do is not needed or insignificant. You are supporting parents who desperately need an outside christian influence pointing their children towards Jesus. I’ve met with students and I would end up saying the same things their parents would try and say to them, they just needed to hear it a different way. I really want to encourage you in some of the ways I believe God strategically uses us.

Stability - You may have students who come from dysfunctional homes where the family is relationally unstable in every way. Also, for students life is always changing because they are. How does He use us?

  1. Youth group meetings every week.
  2. Leaders being there for them each week, ready to love on them.
  3. A program with their best interest at heart every week.
  4. We provide a place to go every week that is safe and stable.

A positive environment - You may have students who are growing up in a very negative environment, where it’s hard for them to see any of the good that is going on in their life. Maybe they are growing up in a home where people speak negatively about them directly to them. How does He use us?

  1. We share and model a hope that gets us through the negative in our lives.
  2. Leaders to see and speak the good about them directly to them.
  3. Encouraging lots of fun and laughter. This is the love language of students!! Fun and laughter creates an incredible positive environment.

Attention - We are in an era where parents are busier than ever. And I don’t mean that entirely in a bad way. Some parents have to work two jobs or single parents have to work. Students are craving for someone to ask a follow up question to “how was your day”. How does He use us?

  1. We listen to things other people would consider silly because we know it’s not silly to them.
  2. We’ve made ourselves available to meet as a mentor or hang as a friend.
  3. We genuinely want to know and will ask the follow up questions.
  4. We make ourselves available to support them however we can.

Unconditional love - You may have students who feel a performance based love at home. How well they do in sports, academics and even with how much they participate in church activities determines the level of love they receive. How does He use us?

  1. We teach, share and model a love that is not performance based. We model a love that says no matter where you come from or what you’ve done or haven’t done you are loved unconditionally.
  2. We create an environment that says all are welcomed and loved not just the students who agree with our religious views. I think a great question every youth group should ask is “if a pregnant girl came to our youth group would she feel loved or judged?” Would she feel judged by our messages or would she feel love and hope?
  3. We teach about Jesus Christ and the unconditional love that He offers to all.

Mentorship - Every year before small groups start we do a meet and greet with the parents and leaders. Last year after we prayed over the year with the parents. I had a Dad approach me and said that he had just became a Christian and was nervous about the questions his son may ask. He felt unequipped to talk about God. It felt so good to help this dad grow in his faith with his son. God used us to mentor a family that is now living for Him. I can give you countless stories of how God has put people in my path to share His wisdom with them. He uses us to mentor students and families.

Know that what we do matters and is desperately needed more now than ever before. God has strategically positioned you to support parents whether they believe in him or not. And of course we are not trying to take the place of parents, but we definitely stand side by side with them in this war the enemy has declared on their children. Would love for you to add more ways God uses us in the lives of students and their families! Let’s encourage one another!!!

hope it helps

ac

 

sph-renewI was at home talking with my wife about this idea of renewing your passion for what you do. She’s a stay at home mom and so I thought she would be perfect to dialogue with about this topic. So out of our conversation I came up with 5 things that has helped us rekindle the passion for what we both love to do.

 

  1. Ask God to increase the desire. – I’ve learned that I lose when I strive for things in my own power. And sometimes I can start off allowing God to do things in my life, but then I think that I have to keep them up. I’ve gotta remember Philippians 2:13 - For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. This verse is saying to me “STOP and let God continue the work He’s started.” It’s also saying, I can’t do it properly with out him, and it becomes work and it drains you when you forget Philippians 2:13. I’m at my best when He has the wheel and I’m in the passenger with duct tape over my hands, feet and mouth. haha Ask God to increase the desire He gave you!!
  2. Celebrate the successes. – Sometimes I can get so caught up with what’s not going right, that I forget the countless times things have worked out for the better even when the situation looked impossible. I forget the blessings that have come out of the times of hardship. There’s an old hymnal my aunt use to sing called “Count Your Blessings”, and sometimes we need to just count our blessings. I have to remember that God isn’t just working in the good in my life but He’s also working through and in the bad. I need to think about those things and celebrate them. Celebrate the successes!!
  3. Redirect your focus. – We can sometimes find ourselves getting caught up in things that distort our focus. Whether it’s a problem with a volunteer, a parent that has become challenging or even leadership. Sometimes those things can sing louder than your assignment to the ministry. And we can allow it to become all about issue and not about what got us in ministry in the first place. We start to feel the weight and it squeezes the passion out of you. Redirect your focus back to what motivated you to do what you’ve been called to do. Redirecting your focus puts God back in view. And it reestablishes the assignment God has placed on your life.
  4. Do something different/new. – Sometimes it can be that you’ve been beating a dead horse. Change a few things up or look for ways to do things a little different. Sometimes it’s just getting excited about doing something different or new that rekindles the fire you once had!! Instead of having team meetings at the office try meeting at a park or try giving more responsibility away. Sometimes we can’t think/dream of what could be different or new because we are too busy maintaining. Look for new or different ways to do things.
  5. Hear and share stories. – Sometimes you can feel like you’re on an island and no one understands what’s going on in your world. You need to be able to hear and share some stories with people that know your world. There’s nothing worse than isolation for someone who has been called to care and be super relational with people. YOU NEED COMMUNITY!! Two years ago I took my first trip to Simply Youth Ministry Conference and it was like a breathe of fresh air. I believe the one thing that SYMC offered that I gained the most from was community. The random conversations I had with people from all over the country were life changing. It reminded me that God is everywhere changing lives and not just in my bubble of ministry. I think I left with more passion for ministry than I started with. I want to encourage you to come, but more so I want to encourage you to find community in ministry.

A lot of times the enemy wants to trick us into thinking that because our passion is not as strong as it was when we started that it means we are in the wrong profession. I had to learn not to make more out of simply needing to renew my passion. My wife and I came to the conclussion that at some point we all need to be renewed no matter what you’re doing. Just because a car needs a tune up every once in a while, does not change the fact that it’s a car. It’s the same with us.

I know there are definitely more than 5, so what helps you renew your passion for ministry??

hope it helps

ac

 



volunteer21One thing I can freely assume about volunteers is that they want to help. Other than that I should be careful about anything else I assume. I’ve been working with volunteers for a while and can say I’ve probably had more failures then successes, but through those failures it’s helped me become better at leading volunteers. So I’m writing from my failures in mind hoping it helps.

Making assumptions is one of the worst things I’ve done concerning volunteers. So I thought I’d share a few of my learnings.

  1. Never assume that they understand the cause just as much as you do. – Learning: You must articulate the cause, and your heart and passion for it. Remember they just want to help, and not everyone helping in youth ministry is called to it. So share and help them understand the impact of what your ministry does.
  2. Never assume they are going to take the initiative. - Learning: Take the time before hand and map out what it is you need them to do. When I say map out, I mean be very detailed in your instructions because they will only do what is expressed. For example, once I had volunteers and I gave them the instructions to clean up. Well, they did not do a good job and they actually left boxes and trash because they didn’t know where to put it. You see, I assumed that they would clean the way I wanted them to clean. I also assumed they would break the boxes down and take out all of the trash. The issue is I was clear on the “what” but not on the “how” so they cleaned the way they wanted to.
  3. Never assume they are self-motivating. – Learning : Volunteers need you to be a cheerleader for them as they care for students at either an event, small group or the weekend service. Be intentional about pointing out some small wins to them as well as big wins. Let them know the affect it has on the ministry. Thank them for allowing God to use their gifts and talents.
  4. Never assume they are going to know what to do next. - Learning:  Idle time to a volunteer is like water to oil. Idle time, if not communicated beforehand, can mean an unorganized ministry to a volunteer. They automatically think “didn’t they know we were coming?” Also, if not communicated you can become frustrated yourself thinking no ones doing anything, when actually it could be that they just don’t know what to do next.
  5. Never assume they want to do more than communicated. – Learning: Until your volunteers buy into the purpose of the ministry, assuming they want to go the extra mile could insure they never return.

For me, these assumptions would happen unintentionally. I would find myself playing catchup and having to stay to clean, and redo some of the work I had asked volunteers to do. I had to really evaluate the assumptions I was making and how because of it, I was not being a great steward of my volunteers time. So this is something to think about as you deal with volunteers this week. I know there is more than just 5 and I know I’m not the only one(maybe I am..ha), so what are some assumptions you’ve made about volunteers that wasn’t so smart?

hope it helps

ac

lets talkFInd out the TWO volunteer trainings Kurt and I would do if we could ONLY do TWO trainings each!!!

Also learn two things about us you probably didn’t know. One has to do me surfing and the other has to do with whether or not Kurt reads my blog posts.

 

 

What would be your top two volunteer trainings?

 

hope it helps

AC and Kurt



When it comes to celebrating, I’m not a natural.
I’d be okay to never attend another birthday party, wedding (other than my own kids some day, and even that is negotiable!), or any other “celebrations” that people like to throw. I’m notorious among our circle of friends for my lack of enthusiasm to decorate for Christmas. For a few years, when my kids were really young, my idea of Christmas decor was a one-step process: I’d replace our porch light with a green light bulb. Done!

But I’ve learned that there’s power in celebrating together; especially in ministry. Especially in youth ministry. So we celebrate. A lot.

- We celebrate the 5, 10, 15 and 20 year anniversary of volunteers.
- We celebrate baptisms by making our baptism events feel like parties.
- We celebrate the various “wins” in our ministries by making it a priority to share them with each other.
- We celebrate mission trips by having reunion parties a month after the trip.
- We celebrate the idea of “team” by having Work Together Wednesdays (nobody allowed to work holed up in their office).

When you celebrate, you encourage. And the reality is that nobody gets tired of encouragement.

I don’t know what your youth ministry looks like, but I’m sure there is lots and lots of really good stuff going on…stuff worth celebrating!

270208_2181937635525_2980948_nBeing a small group leader is great and scary at the same time. I took a group of guys from freshmen year to senior year.  It was great, but there were some things I had to learn to be ok with throughout the four years that I wish i knew at the beginning. It would’ve helped me shape the group better. Some of the things I had to learn to be ok with were great and others kind of came with the territory. Knowing these ten things now will definitely benefit my next group. So I thought I’d share my learnings.

  1. Be OK with it being more than bible study. – I thought I would be just doing a study and hanging out with some dudes. Little did I know, doing life together bonds you together like family. Even though they are all at different colleges, some local and some out of state, they know that I’m here for them if they ever need me. Love my boys.
  2. Be OK with just planting seeds. - I had guys in my group that came and left and I felt like they never fully got what I was trying to teach them. It would get me down at times. I had to remember that I’m called to plant the seeds of God’s word and God changes the heart. I must be ok with just planting seeds and trusting that God will produce the harvest.
  3. Be OK with students joining and leaving. - Whether it be because of a friend who’s joining another group or the season of the student’s life is super busy and they have to take a season off of small group, there is a chance students will leave. Tip: Celebrate the students who join and don’t take it personal when someone leaves. Make sure the door is always open for them to return.
  4. Be OK with your life changing. - My guys pushed me to be the example they needed me to be. I can’t tell you how much my life has changed because of my small group guys. They pushed me to really study God’s word, be a man of prayer and be a better husband/father. Tip: expect God to change your life for the better.
  5. Be OK with being interrupted. – There will be times that your small group will need you to be there during a time of crisis. From death in the family, to them making some huge mistakes and needing advice, know that they will need you at times unplanned.
  6. Be OK with not knowing what to say or do. – You will feel this way at times, but it’s ok.  It’s actually the best place to be, when it pushes you to lean on God and seek His wisdom. I lived in this area my first year leading a small group.
  7. Be OK with students being there for different reasons. - Some are there to be challenged in their faith and others are there just to hang with friends. I’ve had several of those types of students and all I can say is be patient and trust God.  I’ve seen students who were all about just hanging out one year and helping start a christian club at their school the next year. So be confident in God’s ability to change their direction.
  8. Be OK with having your faith stretched and strengthened. - Nothing stretches and strengthens your faith like a bunch of students trying to learn and grow in their walk with Christ.  I’ve seen God show up so many times in my guy’s life that it has strengthened my faith. I would study and teach things I thought I knew very well, until one of the guys would ask a great question that would challenge my thinking on the subject. Little did I know, God was using my group to stretch and grow my faith in Him. He will definitely do the same for you.
  9. Be OK with keeping parents on task. – Communicate to the parents what you expect of them in a loving and supportive way and address issues quickly as they arise.  TIP: If you want parents there on time, be there to greet them when they pull up every time. If you want them to pickup on time, end on time and greet them for pickup.
  10. Be OK with knowing you will make mistakes and/or fail. - You are not perfect and no one is expecting you to be. There will be things you will try to do that will not work out.  You will make mistakes and/or fail at times. It’s ok and we’ve all been there.  The goal is to learn from your mistakes and failures and minimize the return of the two in the same area.

What are some other things small group leaders have to be ok with leading a group?

hope it helps

ac